Aung San Suu Kyi to hold ministry in Myanmar's government

Leader of National League for Democracy is on list of cabinet members, confirming she will take up a formal position of power

Aung San Suu Kyi will be a minister in Myanmar’s new cabinet when it takes power in April, the speaker of parliament has said, ending weeks of speculation over whether the leader of the country’s governing party would hold a formal position in government.

The names of 18 ministers were announced in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Tuesday during a parliament session that lasted less than 15 minutes. The speaker, Mann Win Khaing Than, only read out names and did not detail which portfolios the Nobel laureate or any of the other ministers would take.

However, a separate list obtained by Reuters news agency, which it said was from parliament sources, showed that Aung San Suu Kyi would lead four ministries: minister of the president’s office, foreign affairs, electric power and energy, and education.

“It doesn’t matter how many ministries she takes as she will run the whole government anyway,” said Win Htein, a senior National League for Democracy politician close to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 70, and her NLD party have provided infrequent and scant details on their plans for government since winning a large majority in the historic November election.

Earlier this week, the NLD spokesman, Zaw Myint Maung, suggested Aung San Suu Kyi might not take a cabinet position and instead rule as party leader leader from parliament. As part of the executive she will have to leave her position as an MP.

Only 18 of 21 ministers were disclosed in Tuesday’s short and vague announcement in parliament, adding to speculation that Aung San Suu Kyi will lead more than one ministry.

“Aung San Suu Kyi will entrust the party in parliament in the hands of other NLD elders, as expected, and assume a role within the cabinet,” said Nyantha Maw Lin, the managing director at political consultancy Vriens & Partners in Yangon.

“She understands that ultimately, power lies with the executive, which holds the reins on the peace process, foreign policy, the economy and, most importantly, relations with the military.”

Before the election, the leader had vowed to be “above the president”, working around a junta-drafted constitution that bars her from the country’s most powerful position because her two children and late husband are British.

Htin Kyaw, a close adviser, was elected president this month and is expected to act as a proxy for Aung San Suu Kyi.

The daughter of the country’s assassinated revolutionary hero, Aung San Suu Kyi is the only woman on the list of names. Others include Thein Swe, a former political prisoner, and Naing Thet Lwin, an ethnic minority from the Mon National party.

It also includes Thura U Aung Ko, a senior member of the outgoing military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development party, a reflection of Aung San Suu Kyi’s desire to be inclusive and not alienate army generals.

The army retains significant power and the military commander-in-chief appoints the ministers of defence, home affairs and border affairs from members of the defence services, or Tatmadaw.

Reuters contributed to this report.


Oliver Holmes in Bangkok and agencies

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