Myanmar president sworn in, pledges to amend constitution

NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar’s new president promised to amend the country’s army-written constitution in an inaugural speech on Friday, challenging a charter that bans Aung San Suu Kyi from top office and gives the military major powers.
Win Myint, a 66-year-old former political prisoner and staunch ally of Suu Kyi, was elected president on Wednesday after his predecessor suddenly resigned.
Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who championed Myanmar’s emergence from junta rule by sweeping 2015 elections, is constitutionally barred from the presidency because she was married to a foreigner.
To circumvent that snag, her party created a new position for her called state counsellor — allowing Suu Kyi to rule “above” the president.
That makes it vital for her to have a reliable proxy in office, especially as she manages the delicate power-sharing arrangement with the military, which ruled the country for almost half a century and remains enormously influential.
In his first address to parliament, the famously straight-talking Win Myint said he would focus on the rule of law, national reconciliation and “amending the constitution to build a democratic federal union”.
The three issues are touchstones of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
But talk of amendments to Myanmar’s 2008 constitution is likely to rise heckles among Myanmar’s still-powerful generals.
The army has ceded some power to the civilian administration, but retains 25 per cent of parliamentary seats and total control of security affairs under the charter.
Win Myint also said he would work to “protect human rights”. — AFP