President holds rare talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi


President U Thein Sein meets with chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy in Nay Pyi Taw at 6 pm, March 2, 2015. Photo: President's Office

Myanmar President U Thein Sein and National League for Democracy chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi held rare talks at the former’s farm residenceMarch 2, according to a news release by the Minister for Information U Ye Htut, a spokesperson for the President.

U Ye Htut wrote on his social media page on March 2, “It was an exclusive meeting on constitution amendment and free and fair elections.”

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes.

It is said to be the fifth round of talks between the two since the opposition leader was released from house arrest in 2010.

Some political analysts remarked that both are likely to have discussed how to prevent political unrest in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, while they suggest Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will have stressed that the government not postpone the elections.

U Kyaw Linn Oo, a political analyst, told Mizzima, “This is a rare meeting in which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [might have been] expected to negotiate with President U Thein Sein about amendment of Article 436 of the 2008 Constitution.”

Article 438 effectively bans the opposition leader from the presidency should her party win the elections because a person who is married to a foreign national or has offspring who are foreigners is barred from the post.

Dr Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst, said: “Such meeting should be intended for the good of the country and people. Discussions over constitutional amendments have taken more than 700 days so far. However, [no amendment bill] has been presented to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. If the stakeholders considered the welfare of the country and people, it should be ready for the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.”

“I believe the election will be free and fair only if there is an all-out reshuffle in the Union Election Commission,” he said.

Political analyst Kyaw Linn Oo suggested that meetings between the state leader and his opponent offer hope.
Dr Aye Maung, chairman of the Rakhine National Party, said, “I think there will be more topics discussed than mentioned on the Facebook page of U Ye Htut.”

“The meeting will possibly have focused on the student protest. The President might have asked for the intervention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the student protests,” he said.

In terms of the electoral process, this is something to be discussed with the Union Election Commission chairman, he said, noting that discussions about the constitutional amendments need to involve House Speaker Thura U Shwe Man and the Commander-in-Chief.

The National League for Democracy party has not made a statement on the talks.

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