Aung Myin Yezaw/Reuters
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi smiles during a meeting at the presidential palace in Naypyidaw, the country's capital, on Friday.

Aung San Suu Kyi presidency moves a step closer to reality in Myanmar

Government officials agreed to allow the parliament to consider amending the constitutional bar preventing the Nobel laureate from running for president of Myanmar. Her opposition party is widely expected to win the 2015 election if they are free and fair.

Myanmar's president and military chief met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, an unprecedented event that could pave the way for major reforms in the once pariah nation.

The meeting culminated with the leaders agreeing to allow Myanmar's parliament to consider amending the country's constitution – which currently bars Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president – ahead of elections next year, Agence France-Presse reports. 

The elections are expected to be a major test for the nominally civilian-run country, which has undergone a series of democratic reforms since 2011. But a constitutional ban that prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president still remains – a lasting reminder of the brutal military regime that ruled Myanmar for the previous five decades.

A Nobel laureate and widely beloved leader, Aung San Suu Kyi is ineligible to lead the country because of a clause in Myanmar's 2008 constitution that bans anyone whose spouse or children are foreign citizen from becoming president. Her late husband was British, as are her two sons.

The opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD), is widely expected to win the 2015 election if they are free and fair, AFP reports. 

The NLD won almost every seat available in the 2012 election, making Aung San Suu Kyi a member of parliament for the first time. She's since called repeatedly for a constitutional amendment that would allow her to run for president – and for a meeting between ruling leaders and their opposition counterparts like the one that finally took place on Friday.

Dozens of leaders from rival ethnic groups and political parties, including President Thein Sein and military chief Min Aung Hlaing, took part in the talks. Held in Naypyidaw, Myanmar's capital, the meeting was the first of its kind in the Southeast Asian country. It ended with a broad agreement between leaders to work together on reforms – and on peace talks with more than a dozen rebel ethnic groups. 

The Associated Press reported that the meeting "appeared timed to showcase the Southeast Asian nation's ongoing reforms" ahead of a regional summit in less than two weeks. Critics called it a hollow attempt to show the international community and summit participants – President Barack Obama chief among them – that political dialogue is still continuing. 

"It looks as if this is being timed for Obama's visit, but this might be the start of what has been needed for a long time, an institutional framework for dialogue," Aung Thu Nyein, a Bangkok-based academic and Myanmar specialist, told Reuters. "There's a lot that needs to be talked about and problems that will need solutions."

In separate phone calls Thursday with Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Thein Sein, Mr. Obama pushed the two rival leaders on furthering Myanmar's democratic reforms, the AP reports.

Obama underscored the need for an inclusive and credible process for conducting elections next year, the White House said. He also stressed the importance of addressing tensions in Rakhine State, where more than 100,000 members of a Muslim minority have fled attacks and persecution over the last two years.

The upcoming East Asia Summit is scheduled for Nov. 12-13.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Aung San Suu Kyi presidency moves a step closer to reality in Myanmar
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today