The names of Myanmar's next president and two vice presidents will be revealed on March 17, an official said Monday, setting a clear timeline for the transition of power from a military-controlled government to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's party.
Parliament chairman Mann Win Khaing Than announced that the upper house, the lower House and the military will have to select one candidate each for the three posts before March 17, and submit them to parliament on that day.
While Suu Kyi herself is barred from becoming president, there are growing signs that her talks with the military to remove a constitutional hurdle blocking her path can be completed by March 17.
Once the three names are put before the 664-member parliament, all members will take a vote. The person with the largest number of votes will become president, and the other two will be vice presidents. It isn't clear when the vote will take place, but the current president's term ends March 31 and the successor must take office April 1.
Given that Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party has a majority in both houses of parliament, it is certain to get the president's post and one of the vice presidential positions.
The NLD won a landslide victory in the Nov. 8 general elections. But Suu Kyi has been stymied by the Constitution's Article 59 (f), which says anyone with a foreign spouse or children cannot hold the executive office. Suu Kyi's late husband was British as are her two sons.
Still, she has been negotiating with commander-in-chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing on having the clause suspended. The clause can be legally scrapped only through a 75 percent plus one vote in Parliament. The military holds 25 percent of seats in parliament — all unelected — which means the NLD cannot scrap the clause on its own. However, the clause can be suspended by a simple majority, but because all this is uncharted territory nobody is sure if that would be allowed.
The military has been in power since 1962, either directly or through a proxy government. It called an election in 1990, which Suu Kyi's party won only to see the results annulled by the military.
Myanmar started moving from a half-century of dictatorship toward democracy in 2011, when military rulers inexplicably agreed to hand over power to a nominally civilian government headed by President Thein Sein, a general turned reformist. He will stand down in late March or early April when an NLD president will take over.
Suu Kyi has said previously that even if she doesn't become the president she would run the country from behind the scenes.
Suu Kyi became increasingly defiant on the presidential clause as the scale of her victory became apparent, making it clear she will run the country regardless of who the NLD elects as president.
"He will have no authority. He will act in accordance with the decisions of the party," said Suu Kyiin an interview with Channel News Asia in November, adding that the president would be "told exactly what he can do."
But clearly, the NLD would prefer that the 70-year-old Nobel peace laureate lead the country, having struggled almost all her adult life for it.
In separate but identical broadcasts late Sunday, Sky Net and Myanmar National Television, both pro-government, said "positive results could come out on the negotiation for the suspension of the constitution Article 59 (f)."
"I think everything will be fine," said Kyaw Htwe, a senior member of the NLD who is also a member of parliament. “
The negotiations will be positive for our leader Aung San Suu Kyi to become president."
But Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst, advised caution.
"It is still too early to confirm that Suu Kyi will be among the presidential candidate," he said. "Even the suspension and the constitutional amendment will take time. And we cannot really comment relying only on a short announcement on TV.”
Al Jazeera with The Associated Press