NLD meet to plan changes to 2008 Constitution

Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party the National League for Democracy held a public meeting in Karen State to discuss changes to the National Constitution that was put in place by the country’s former military dictatorship.

A central committee member of the NLD, Nan Khin Htwe Myint and local members invited the public to meeting at the Royal Lake Hall in Hpa an Town on October 6 to discuss issues related to rewriting or to modify the 2008 National Constitution.

The NLD put its case to local people and explained the Constitutions weakness and its strong points. The NLD collected and evaluated the publics’ opinion of the Constitutions at the meeting.

Nan Khin Htwe Myint said that the people at the meeting were overwhelming in their support for the Constitution to be modified.

“90% of people who joined the meeting said they would like to amend the constitution. If we call for a total rewrite [of the Constitution], the government would oppose it – the public know this.”

The NLD’s Nan Khin Htwe Myint said that most of the people attending the meeting wanted to amend clauses that automatically gave the military 25% of parliamentary seats, the current process of electing the president and specified qualifications for selecting a president.

An Hpa-an resident, U Saw Rold Net, who was at the meeting said.

“There are many items that need to be revised in the 2008 Constitution – all people should be equal. If we revise and rewrite the Constitution, it is better that the NLD and ethnic leaders, all political parties and civilians should work to do so together.”

The Plong-Sgaw Democratic Party (PSDP) vice- chairperson, Mahn Aung Pyi Soe, told Karen News, “even if we want to revise or rewrite the 2008 Constitution there are still many other challenges to deal with.” Mahn Aung Pyi Soe said that the PSDP has not yet made its decision on the rewrite or amending the 2008 Constitution.

Burma’s controversial 2008 Constitution was received with heavy criticism from the international community, including the New York based Human Rights Watch who said at the time in its report, The Vote to Nowhere, that the former military regime “has tightly controlled the writing process to ensure that the constitution’s language incorporates the desire of the ruling generals to remain firmly in control.”

The HRW highlighted that the “draft Burmese constitution is not designed to bring about a real transition to democratic rule; its clauses demonstrate that the document’s purpose is to continue military dominance of Burma with a civilian face, and to deny political parties the right to participate freely in the future governing of the country.”

To see the HRW’s full report go to: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/burma0508webwcover.pdf

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