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News Navigator: What is Aung San Suu Kyi's title in Myanmar?

In this April 18, 2013 file photo, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to reporters after meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. (Mainichi)

Q: Is Aung San Suu Kyi the leader of Myanmar?

A: The National League for Democracy (NLD), which is led by Aung San Suu Kyi, swept the general election last year and formed a new administration in March of this year. Suu Kyi's title is "state counselor," and she is, in effect, the leader of the country.

Myanmar's Constitution states that no individual with foreign family members may become president of the country. Because Suu Kyi's two sons are British citizens, the NLD submitted a bill to establish the position of state counselor especially for her, and this was passed in parliament. It is a powerful post that enables her to advise the president and Cabinet ministers and government ministries.

The constitutional clause is said to have been produced by the former military administration to prevent Suu Kyi from becoming president. The junta established a dictatorship, and clamped down on democracy movements. Suu Kyi was a symbolic figure in the movement, and she was placed under house arrest for over 15 years.

Q: Will democracy in Myanmar make progress?

A: There is hope that democracy will progress in Myanmar, but the military retains strong control over politics in the country. One quarter of all members of parliament are appointed by the military rather than being elected. To alter the predominant position of military personnel, it will be necessary to change the Constitution -- but the consent of military personnel in parliament is required in order to do this.

Q: How should the NLD solve conflict with the military?

A: The military has a major role to play in solving various political problems, such as achieving peace with armed ethnic minorities. Because the military has many related business enterprises, and has influence over the country's economy, it seems that the only solution is to promote democracy while forging a certain level of cooperative relations with the military.

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