YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar President Thein Sein has not yet decided whether to pursue a second term but will base his decision on how the ruling party fares in parliamentary elections later this year, his office said Tuesday.
The president’s office denied a news report that quoted an anonymous official as saying Thein Sein would not run in November’s parliamentary elections due to health concerns.
“The president has already said that he will decide whether to run for a second term or not based on the wishes of the people and election results,” Zaw Htay, the director of the president’s office, told The Associated Press, adding that his stance remains unchanged.
“It all depends on circumstances,” Zaw Htay said.
Thein Sein has repeatedly said he would seek a second term if that is what the people of Myanmar want, meaning if his ruling party gets a majority of votes in the elections and wins the opportunity to choose the country’s next president.
The official also noted that to “run for president” Thein Sein doesn’t even have to contest for a parliamentary seat. The winning political party can choose a president from among its newly elected lawmakers or from its non-elected party members.
A former military commander, Thein Sein ran for parliament in 2010 elections, when the ruling party won a majority. He won a seat, which he had to give up after being named president.
Zaw Htay also said the president is “in good health.”
The upcoming polls will be the second general election since Myanmar ended a half-century of brutal military rule and handed power to a nominally civilian government in 2011.
The opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, boycotted the 2010 polls, which they said were not free and fair. But Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is contesting this time around and is expected to see heavy gains against the ruling party.
Analysts say that Thein Sein has been reluctant to announce if he will seek a second term because of concerns about the opposition’s popularity, and will wait to commit until he sees election results.