Bloomberg News

Generals Must Respect Elections: Adviser

May 06, 2012

Myanmar’s military contains smart people who have no intention of seizing back power as the former dictatorship transitions to democracy, according to President Thein Sein’s top political adviser.

“The military has to accept the election result,” Ko Ko Hlaing said in an e-mail. “Our military is a very obedient one, senior officials are well educated and I hope there will be no more coups.”

Thein Sein has won praise from world leaders after freeing political prisoners, easing media restrictions and convincing opposition chief Aung San Suu Kyi to stand for parliament since taking power 14 months ago. His party’s election win in 2010, while criticized by Western nations at the time, ended about five decades of direct military control.

Investors are watching to see whether Myanmar’s political opening will proceed quickly or face opposition from entrenched interests as the country looks ahead to national elections in 2015. Thein Sein remains undecided on whether he will stand for a second term, Ko Ko Hlaing said.

“Our president hasn’t revealed any desire on the next term,” he said in the e-mail. “So I couldn’t say whether he will run or not in the next election.” Hlaing said in a May 2 interview in Yangon that Thein Sein had “laid the foundation” for political reform and if his tenure is “quite successful, he may be content with his works.”

Presidential Contender

Another contender for the presidency in 2015 is Shwe Mann, the former No. 3 in the junta and now the speaker of parliament’s lower house, according to the International Crisis Group.

“There is a broad consensus among the political elite on the need for fundamental reform,” the Brussels-based policy research group said in an April 11 report. “This makes the risk of a reversal relatively low.”

Suu Kyi took office last week after her National League for Democracy party won 43 of 44 seats it contested in by-elections last month, giving it control of less than 10 percent of the 664-member parliament. The NLD boycotted the 2010 national elections, during which the Nobel Peace Prize winner was detained at her lakeside home in Yangon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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