Myanmar MPs reject bid to allow Suu Kyi to become president

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Military representatives stand upon arrival of Parliament Chairman T Khun Myat during a regular session of the Union Parliament Wednesday, March. 11, 2020, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

NAYPYITAW – Myanmar's parliament rejected on Wednesday a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed the country's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to officially become president.

The rejection had been expected because the proposal was opposed by the military, which under the constitution adopted when it held power, holds enough parliamentary seats to block any constitutional change.

The defeated motion was one of several constitutional changes proposed by Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy party, with most expected to be blocked.

Article 59(f) of the constitution bars a person from becoming president if his or her spouse or children are foreign citizens. Suu Kyi's two sons are British nationals, as was her late husband.

Despite the rule, Suu Kyi holds executive power in the government because of a legal loophole that allowed the creation of the post of state counsellor, to which she was appointed. Under the arrangement the actual president — a member of her party — defers to her.

The efforts to change the constitution come ahead of a general election slated for late this year.

Suu Kyi's party took power in 2016 by winning a landslide election victory after five decades of direct and indirect military rule.

But its intended reforms have been thwarted by the rules the military inserted in the 2008 constitution.