NLD, 88 Generation Target Military Veto Over Myanmar Constitutional Reform

NLD, 88 Generation Target Military Veto Over Burma Constitutional Reform

National League for Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi meets with 88 Generation leaders in Rangoon on Feb. 4. (Photo: The 88 Generation / Facebook)

Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and the 88 Generation, who recently joined together to push for changes to the 2008 Constitution, say they will target a clause that gives the military a veto over amending the charter.

The group that was born out of Burma’s 1988 student uprising and the party of Aung San Suu Kyi last week said they would join forces to campaign for key changes to the military-drafted Constitution before elections in 2015.

The current Constitution guarantees the military a role in national politics, bars NLD chairperson Suu Kyi from becoming president and is criticized by ethnic groups who demand more autonomy in border areas.

On Sunday, following the latest in a series of meetings between leaders from the NLD and the 88 Generation, the groups issued another joint statement declaring that they would prioritize amending Chapter 12’s Article 436. The article currently gives the Burmese military an effective veto over Constitutional amendments.

Opposition spokesman Nyan Win told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the rules around amending the Constitution would be addressed first by the two groups’ joint campaign.

Although Parliament—currently dominated by current and former soldiers—has the sole power to make amendments, he said, the NLD is hoping to force change using “people power,” and by making it clear there is overwhelming public support.

Under Article 436, amending any part of the Constitution requires the support of more than 75 percent of members of the Union Parliament, in which a quarter of seats are reserved for unelected serving military officials.

More contentious parts of the Constitution additionally require a majority of voters to back the change in a national referendum. These parts include the article guaranteeing the military its parliamentary seats and its role in politics; Article 59(f), which blocks people with foreign family members, like Suu Kyi, from becoming president; and the rules around declaring a state of emergency.

88 Generation leader Pyone Cho said amending Article 436 would pave the way for the Constitution—which was nominally approved by the public in a referendum that observers said was deeply flawed—to reflect the people’s wishes.

“It is the main obstacle for constitutional reform, so we agreed that we first must amend every provision under Article 436 of Chapter 12, so that the Constitution can be in accordance with democratic principles,” he said.

Parliament has formed an implementation committee following a report from the Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) in January. The JCRC reported that—barring a single petition against Constitutional reform signed by more than 100,000 people, reportedly members of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party—most of the 28,000 letters in response to a consultation were in favor of amending the charter.

Khin Maung Swe, the chairman of another political party, the National Democratic Force, said his party was in support of charter reform and was pushing for amendments in Parliament.

However, he said, “Amendments prior to the 2015 election are unsure of success as there remain issues of the peace building with the ethnic groups, which is directly related [to constitutional reform].”

5 Responses to NLD, 88 Generation Target Military Veto Over Burma Constitutional Reform

  1. Opposition groups need extra care when come to push for to change some of Constitution law. Former dictator Than Shwe and Military are watching over every step of opposition groups and as well as U Thein Sein and U Shwe Mann.

    I’m worrying about Military power in current Government and country.
    Even President U Tein Sein couldn’t take disciplinary action against Minister Gen Ohn Myint.
    Ohn Myint, he used offensive language against MPs in Parliament, Chinese Company, Foreign Investors, Medias and local peoples in where he was visiting. As he said, he became soldier at 15 years old. So he was not educated person. Ohn Myint was rude and arrogant. Ohn Myint never should appointed as Ministery level position in Government.
    How many soldiers like Gen Ohn Myint were promoted to high rank military officers for to get their loyalty by former Dictator Than Shwe in Army?
    Military officers, especially Army officers were brain washed by generation of dictatorship in Burmese Military. Army officers think they are right to rule the country and they are only one who protects the country. They are not intent to give up Military power and they want to stay above the Government. They want full protection by country Constitution.

    Former dictator Than Shwe and his boys in Military can create something which can lead Military to coup again for before 2015 election. Sinister former dictator Than Shwe, he is really worrying about his future and his family future after U Thein Sein Government left office in 2015. Now Than Shwe does not trust U Shwe Mann either. Gen Min Aung Hlaing seens to be loyal to Than Shwe and he will do whatever Than Shwe asked to him to do.
    I don’t see any improvement in peace negotiation between Government and ethnic minority Armed Groups. Current Army leader does not want peace between Government and Minority ethnics’ group. They want Burmese peoples to see Army as saver of nation.

    If Burmese peoples and opposition politicians do not want Military coup in future and then they should be publicly given guaranty to Than Shwe and his family won’t be prosecution for any crimes they committed in the past. I believe he does not mind other retired Generals’ fate. Than Shwe is coward and selfish person. He will exchange Gen. Min Aung Hlain life for his life if he needed to do so, he definitely will. If Than Shwe was not selfish person and then living condition of Burmese peoples won’t be same as today.
    He refused international help for Cyclone Nargis victims. He only interested in confiscate victims’ farmland. Than Shwe knew he committed many crimes and he does not want to go jail.
    We must let his Karma prosecute to him. He can not avoid his bad Karma. We must exchange our country future with Than Shwe life.

    Vital sign of Burmese democracy reform is not in best shade as it should be.
    Burma future is depending on only one man who is Gen. Min Aung Haling. He is Than Shwe’s boy.

    Foreign investors should wait their big spending on investment in Burma until 2015 general Election.

  2. (1) Put Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein or Ne Chi Ba Swe or any other lady in the place of Aung San Suu Kyi, not many will bother to amend the article 59(F) of 2008 Constitution. 59(F) is, in deed, a must and the most important article that is never need to amend for the country. Of course, you may amend the rest of the constitution as appropriate to benefit the people of Myanmar and the country.

    (2) Only courageous and gentleman will come out to form a political party that will reflect socialism as Bogyoke Aung San’s legacy. The cowards and opportunists will merge with NLD to ensure a place in the party at top or in the parliament. The guys who enjoys the present comfort zone will remain there until they grow fat and perish.

    This forecast is not new, but the repetition of the same opinion of mine written/ commented somewhere else.

  3. Absolutely. The ones who talk to transform Myanmar into democratic Union are the ones who actually block from becoming democratic Union. In the past, they raped, tortured and killed the citizens of Myanmar. Pressure from inside and outside the country became unbearable (SLORC promised the Union with democratic election and government, so Than Shwe was vice chairman of SLORC and he was part of that promise). After countless lives have been lost and countless lives had been made miserable, they are still dragging their feet not to reach democracy. We the people are tired of watching and seeing what they are doing today. So, we fully support NLD and 88 Generation to challenge to fix the black whole in the constitution. Soldiers have no place in the Hlutdaw without elected. If he or she is a politician, let him/her run in the election. Soldiers have no value in my mind including the generals.

  4. Hi the team Irrawaddy,

    I often commented on your articles, but hardly you publish my comments. I don’t think I wrote rude and inappropriate comments. For instance, I said about my belief that article 59(F) shouldn’t be amended and about the 88 students future possibility of existence.

    I really doubt about he sincerity and journalistic ethic of team irrawaddy. but, still, thank you for your news coverage.

  5. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

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