Myanmar's Suu Kyi drops ministries, takes on spokeswoman role

Aung San Suu Kyi's administration has freed scores of political prisoners and shown determination to repeal oppressive laws

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has dropped plans to run two major ministries but will act as spokeswoman for the country's new president, a ruling party official said Monday. Banned from becoming president by a junta-era constitution, Suu Kyi has cemented control over the country's first civilian-led government in decades by taking on a string of senior roles in the new administration. She has vowed to rule "above" the president, picking school friend and close aide Htin Kyaw for the role. Lawmakers from her National League for Democracy party are also pressing for a special "state counsellor" position for the Nobel laureate, an appointment that would allow her to liaise between the presidency and parliament. Last week the NLD said she would take on four cabinet posts -- foreign, energy, education and the ministerial position in the president's office. But during a parliamentary session on Monday, the NLD put forward two new names for the energy and education portfolios, according to NLD spokesman Win Htein. "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be the spokesperson for the president," he added, without elaborating on the rejig. The move will free up the 70-year-old's already busy day-to-day responsibilities while reinforcing control over her proxy president Htin Kyaw. Hopes are growing that the newly sworn-in government can accelerate the country's economic and political rejuvenation after nearly half a century of military repression. Suu Kyi's party won a huge mandate at last November's elections. But the constitution effectively bans her from the top post as it rules out anyone with foreign-born children or spouses from becoming president. Suu Kyi married and had two sons with a British national. The military also retains control of the key home, defence and border affairs ministries, while 25 percent of parliamentary seats are reserved for unelected soldiers. The military has already balked at the NLD's plans to make Suu Kyi a "state counsellor" with army MPs in parliament last week saying the move bypasses the constitution. The proposal is likely to sail through the NLD-dominated legislature.