Sunday, August 20, 2017

NLD to keep all chief minister jobs

The National League for Democracy said yesterday it will assign party representatives as chief minister in all 14 states and regions, despite not having a majority in two states.

The decision has already drawn criticism from observers, who argue that the NLD should instead open power-sharing talks with parties in Rakhine and Shan states, where the NLD failed to win a majority.

In Rakhine State, the NLD plans to appoint U Nyi Pu, the head of the party’s state branch, as chief minister, according to senior official U Win Htein. He did not disclose a potential nominee for Shan State.

While he said the NLD was “negotiating” with other stakeholders, he declined to give further details.

Under the 2008 constitution, the chief ministers are chosen by the president from among elected or appointed MPs, regardless of which party holds a majority in the state. The nominee is then confirmed by the state and region parliaments, which have very little scope to reject the president’s selection.

In July 2015, the NLD voted to change the clause so that the chief ministers would be selected by the states and regions, but the amendment was vetoed by the military.

Even some within the NLD are unhappy at the decision. One source, who asked not to be named, said the chief ministers should be selected from the parties that won the highest number of seats. “The NLD should favour the biggest winning ethnic political parties in the state to follow its own national reconciliation policy,” the source said.

U Ko Ni, a Supreme Court advocate and legal adviser to the NLD, said he believed the party should negotiate within the Rakhine and Shan state parliaments for a candidate that all can agree on.

“The parliaments will approve the appointment of a chief minister who can be really effective for their own region,” he said.

U Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst, said that the NLD should talk with the Rakhine and Shan parties about “power sharing”. However, he said he believed the “people will accept the NLD if they work for federalism in the states and regions”.

Representatives of both parties were yesterday laying claim to the chief minister job.

U Kyaw Ni Naing, a Union Solidarity and Development Party Am-yotha Hluttaw MP for the Kokang region, said Shan State needed a chief minister with military experience due to the state’s “complicated” history of armed conflict.

The the Arakan National Party, which holds 23 of 47 seats in Rakhine, has said that if the NLD does not give it the chief minister position it will respond by refusing any role in government, and will instead act as an opposition party.

ANP general secretary U Tun Aung Kyaw yesterday said it was time for the NLD to show that it recognises the principles of equality, a self-determination for ethnic peoples, equality and a federal union.

“We already prepared someone to be appointed as chief minister if [the NLD] offers,” he said. “But I don’t think they will.”