Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi to be given new 'PM-like' role

Aung San Suu Kyi attends the presidential handover ceremony in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Image copyright AP
Image caption If approved it would formalise Ms Suu Kyi's influential role

Myanmar's newly installed parliament has proposed that Aung San Suu Kyi be given a new role similar to that of prime minister.

A bill submitted to parliament on Thursday proposes making the ruling party's leader "state counsellor".

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won historic elections last year but she is not allowed to be president.

Ms Suu Kyi, who already holds several other government posts, has said she will rule by proxy.

On Wednesday, her close aide Htin Kyaw was sworn in as president.

Behind the bill: By Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Myanmar

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Media captionWatch: Behind the scenes at the swearing-in of Myanmar's new president

The draft bill states that the new position of "state counsellor" will be funded, created, and then filled by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The bill will give Ms Suu Kyi the power to work on all the key issues of government and meet whoever she pleases.

Effectively it is the creation of a position similar to that of prime minister elsewhere.

After the swearing in of the new government on Wednesday the former political prisoner is already directly in charge of three key ministries and has said she will give instructions to the new President Htin Kyaw.

It is possible that this new role is an attempt to protect her from the charge that she is acting unconstitutionally by taking on so much power.

Former PM's legacy of reform

Htin Kyaw is Myanmar's first elected civilian leader in more than 50 years. Taking the oath of office on Wednesday, the 69-year-old said he would be "faithful" to the people of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Despite leading the NLD's decades-long democracy struggle and taking them to victory in last year's election, Ms Suu Kyi cannot be president herself. The constitution bars candidates with foreign spouses or children. Her two sons hold British passports.

She has previously said that despite this, she would be "above the president".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The new president, Htin Kyaw, is a close personal friend of Aung San Suu Kyi

The draft document makes clear the "state counsellor" post is for the next five years only, and names Ms Suu Kyi as the best candidate, says our correspondent.

If approved by parliament, it will mean Ms Suu Kyi is officially in charge of foreign affairs, the president's office, education, and energy and electric power in the new government.

The NLD won 80% of contested seats in the elections last year, ending decades of military rule.

But the army has kept considerable power. It retains a quarter of the seats in parliament, and will head three key ministries - defence, home affairs and border affairs.

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