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Southeast Asia, explained

Myanmar's president: "condition of the country" could lead to extra term

Does Aung San Suu Kyi really have a shot at leading Myanmar in three years?
Thein sein president 2012 10 24Enlarge
Myanmar president Thein Sein (center) greets supporters as he arrives at Yangon International Airport upon his return from a landmark tour of the US on October 1, 2012. Myanmar leader Thein Sein has said in an interview he would accept democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi as president if elected, but added he could not alone amend rules that bar her from power. (SOE THAN WIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The answer to Myanmar's big question -- can the troubled nation become a legit democracy? -- is still three years away.

As it stands, the quasi-democracy is very much controlled by a clique of active and former army generals, many of whom fill out Myanmar's parliament. Whether they will allow a planned 2015 election to cede power to outsiders is up for speculation.

President Thein Sein, the face of Myanmar's reform movement, has told the Western press that he'll step aside in 2015. He even told the BBC that he could tolerate the election of Aung San Suu Kyi, the beloved dissident-turned-parliamentarian, to the president's seat.

So it's interesting to hear that, after a much-publicized tour in the United States, his answer to the media back home sounds somewhat different.

Asked about a next term, according to the state-run New Light of Myanmar, he said that "in his foreign tour he made clear that he would serve only for the first term and only the condition of the country and the desire of the people could overturn his decision."

Parsing Thein Sein's translated words is only so useful. He does not answer media questions in English.

But when asked whether he'll stay on after the much-awaited 2015 election, offering caveats such about "the condition of the country" is a different answer than "no."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/myanmars-president-condition-the-country-could-lead-extra