Former army chief ‘accepts’ Suu Kyi as Myanmar’s leader

Grandson voices position of influential general as Suu Kyi’s party says Than Shwe recognises NLD’s election victory.

Aung San Suu Kyi meets with parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann
Aung San Suu Kyi has vowed publicly to rule 'from above the presidency' [File: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA]

Myanmar’s former military chief General Than Shwe has accepted Aung San Suu Kyi as “the leader” of the Southeast Asian country, his grandson has said.

“He accepts that she will become the leader of the country,” Nay Shwe Thway Aung said of his grandfather in a message posted on Facebook on Sunday.

The comment came two days after Than Shwe met Aung San Suu Kyi, who led her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to a landslide win last month, for more than two hours at military headquarters in the capital Naypyitaw.

Than Shwe, who ruled Myanmar with an iron fist from 1992 to 2001, kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of his 19 years in power.

Even though Than Shwe has no official role today, and has been out of the public eye since 2011, many in Myanmar believe he still remains politically involved behind the scenes.

Senior NLD lawmaker Win Htein confirmed the meeting had taken place and said Aung San Suu Kyi met Than Shwe due to “her belief in his influence on the government and the Tatmadaw [military],” he told Reuters.

“U Than Shwe recognises NLD’s victory, and talked with chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi about laying a solid foundation for democracy in the country,” Win Htein added.

Landslide victory

NLD swept the historic parliamentary election in November, winning solid majorities in the lower and upper houses. The party also won most of the regional parliament seats.

The current constitution drawn up during the rule of the former military government also prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi from being nominated president, because she was married to a foreigner and both her children are British citizens.

Nevertheless, the undisputed party leader has vowed publicly to rule “from above the presidency”.

In 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party also swept the election, but the outcome was ignored by the military government, which put her under house arrest for a total of 15 years.

Source: News Agencies