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Myanmar Creates New Post for Aung San Suu Kyi

Leader of the National League for Democracy Party (NLD) and Burma's new Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, joint press conference, Naypyitaw, April 5, 2016. Foreign minister is one of the posts that the Nobel Peace Prize-winner holds.
Myanmar Creates New Post for Aung San Suu Kyi
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Myanmar's parliament has created a new position for the head of the newly elected ruling party, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Lawmakers voted Tuesday to establish the position of State Counselor. The effort to make her the country's de facto top leader was launched last week. It was the first legislative act of the new parliament.

Aung San Suu Kyi stated during the election campaign last year that she would hold a position “above the president.” She is also Myanmar’s Foreign Minister and Minister of the President's Office. However, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is barred by the constitution from being president because her children are foreign nationals.

Military representatives hold 25 percent of the seats in parliament under the constitution set up by the former military government. They say the new position is unconstitutional. But the legislation passed easily because Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, holds a majority in parliament after the November 2015 election.

President Htin Kyaw is a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi. He must now sign the legislation officially creating the position into law.

Earlier this week, Aung San Suu Kyi met with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He congratulated Myanmar on its newly established civilian government. He also promised that China would pursue projects that would help both countries.

China is the largest foreign investor in Myanmar and an ally of the former military government. However, China has been criticized for pursuing large-scale projects, such as a huge dam in northern Myanmar and a gas pipeline through Rakhine state. Critics say the projects are bad for the environment and exploit Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

After their meeting Tuesday, neither foreign minister said whether they discussed these controversial issues. They said only that they had discussed issues to improve bilateral economic and trade relations.

I’m Mario Ritter. reported this story. The story was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Burmese language service. It was adapted for Learning English by Mario Ritter. George Grow was the editor.

What are your thoughts about Myanmar’s political developments? Let us know in the comments section.


Words in This Story

de facto – n. existing, but not by official rule or law

pursue v. to try to get something or reach a goal, to seek to get something done

exploit v. to use, sometimes in a way that is unfair

controversialadj. of or related to a public dispute or debate

bilateral adj. between two sides