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When An Icon Comes To Power: Suu Kyi's Authoritarianism Could Prove Fatal For Myanmar

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On 10 March, the new Myanmar parliament will convene to vote for a president. As per the 2008 constitution, the elected members of the upper and lower houses of the parliament will nominate two candidates. The third candidate will be nominated by the military which holds 25% of the seats in the 664-seat parliament. The president will be voted from amongst the three candidates, and the two losing candidates will assume the vice presidency. As leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Suu Kyi would have been the natural choice for the post, except that the 2008 constitution comes in the way of her presidency. The 59(f) clause bars candidates who have a family with a foreign citizenship or passport. Constitutional clauses aside, Suu Kyi has declared that she will remain above the president and fully expects the elected leader to defer to her views and her counsel.


The emphatic statement is a fairly good signal of how far Suu Kyi has come from being the reluctant leader of a student-led revolution that threatened the military regime in August 1988. Nearly three decades, and almost 15 years of house arrest later, her role as matriarch of the NLD is both unquestioned and undisputed. The National League for Democracy that began in 1988 formed around Suu Kyi and the legacy she carried as Aung San's daughter. It was less of a party and more of a movement against the military dictatorship that had run Myanmar to the ground. Almost 30 years later, it has grown into a party for Suu Kyi, by Suu Kyi, and of Suu Kyi.



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