Politics

Myanmar parliament rejects Suu Kyi’s bid to curtail military’s power

Yangon/Bangkok, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- Myanmar parliament on Wednesday voted against a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, become president.

The veto comes a day after the parliament on Tuesday rejected another bid by Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy party to gradually reduce the number of legislative seats reserved for the military.

The voting down of key proposals was expected because the army holds considerable sway in the house to veto any amendments to the constitution, adopted when the Southeast country was ruled by a military junta.

Some 25 percent of parliamentary seats are reserved for soldiers nominated by the army, allowing it to block any attempts to reform the constitution it drafted.

Control of ministries such as defense, interior, and border affairs is also reserved for the military.

The NLD, as part of its endeavor to reform the constitution, had been aiming to reduce the army’s stranglehold on the country’s politics.

The proposal aimed to reduce the number of military MPs down to 5 percent 2030 as well as eliminate the clauses that give the army chief power to appoint ministers or assume power in an emergency.

“People are saying we have lost, but I don’t think it is true. I believe we have shown the people of Myanmar that we are trying and who is the real obstacle in progressing democratically,” NLD lawmaker Mi Ko Chan told EFE.

The parliament also turned down a motion that sought to remove a constitutional provision that bars candidates whose relatives are foreign citizens from becoming president.

This is significant as Suu Kyi’s two sons hold British passports and her late husband was also a British citizen.

To circumvent the ban, the NLD in 2016 created the new post of state counsellor for the Nobel peace laureate, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and handles the ministry of the president’s office.

Myanmar was ruled by military regimes from 1962 to 2011, when the junta transferred power to a civilian government led by Thein Sein, the last prime minister of the dictatorship who began implementing political, economic and social reforms to establish a “disciplined democracy.”

The NLD had won elections in 1990 with an overwhelming majority but the generals ignored the result, continued to rule and did not allow the Myanmarese to vote until 2010, in a plebiscite that was held amid a boycott by the Suu Kyi-led democratic movement.

However, despite the differences, Suu Kyi and the army generals have worked closely in recent years.

The leader defended her country’s military over allegations of genocide against the minority Rohingya in the International Court of Justice in December. EFE-EPA

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