A last-minute proposal by President U Thein Sein to bring the Ministry of Immigration under the wing of the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs ran into opposition yesterday from the National League for Democracy, which says the merger would deprive the party of a key post in the next government.
The outgoing government’s last-ditch attempt last week to make good on pledges to release all political prisoners fell well short of the aim, according to international rights groups.
In a year of disastrous floods, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation accounted for more than 62 percent of total emergency expenditure, parliament heard yesterday. Yet barely over one-tenth of the K100 billion emergency fund under the president’s control was utilised.
Parliament has passed the K23.62 trillion (US$18.28 billion) budget for the 2016-17 financial year starting in March. In effect, this means that defeated members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party government have bequeathed spending patterns and constraints to the incoming government elected last November.
As the military MPs selected to serve in the incoming parliament are confirmed, attention is turning to how they will interact with the majority National League for Democracy members elected last November.
Five days of peace talks with ethnic armed groups were billed as the first step of political dialogue aimed at ending decades of civil war, and a showcase for President U Thein Sein in his last months in office.
A senior US State Department official yesterday called on President U Thein Sein to release remaining political prisoners before the end of his term in March, while also drawing attention to the plight of the Muslim minority in Rakhine State.
With so many supporters soon to be in high places, the Former Political Prisoner Society has high expectations of the incoming National League for Democracy government. About 100 of the MPs preparing to take their seats on February 1, including NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, served time as prisoners of conscience, they say.