World Bulletin/News Desk
Myanmar lawmakers have agreed unanimously to talks on constitutional reform that could result in opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi being allowed to stand in next year’s presidential election.
In a surprise move, a ruling party representative proposed a summit between six political leaders on the constitution drafted by the former junta in 2008. The meeting will be held on Friday in the capital Naypyidaw.
Suu Kyi is currently excluded from standing for election under a clause that bars candidates with a foreign spouse or children. Her two sons have British nationality, as did her late husband, and the clause is widely viewed as having been designed to bar her from office.
Myint Tun, a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, proposed the talks on Tuesday. The party is largely made up of former military officers and controls 25 percent of seats.
More than 75 percent of lawmakers must vote for any changes to the constitution, giving the military a veto on any constitutional change and there have also been calls for this clause to be removed from the country's charter.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and a student group have collected five million signatures calling for a reduction in the power of unelected military lawmakers.
The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based news website, said the talks would include Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi; President Thein Sein; parliamentary speakers Shwe Mann and Khin Aung Myint; military chief General Min Aung Hlaing; and a representative from one of the ethnic minority parties.
“I can’t refuse this,” the website quoted Suu Kyi as telling reporters Tuesday. “The previous meeting, with 14 persons, was unclear. This time, the parliamentary proposal is very detailed and there is no reason not to attend.”
She was referring to a meeting last month that had a much broader scope and did not result any noticeable results.
Member of Parliament Pe Than told the Thailand-based Irrawaddy news website: “The meeting is important as the country needs to have a proper constitution in order to create a better future.”
He warned that the president and commander-in-chief also needed to agree to the proposed talks. “We urge them to accept it for the sake of peace, stability and national reconciliation,” he said.
Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann said earlier this month that constitutional change would not come before the general election, due to be held late next year.
Myanmar began moving towards democracy when a nominally civilian government took power in 2011, ending 49 years of direct military rule.
Earlier this month U.S. President Barack Obama was among leaders at the Association of South East Asian Nations summit in Myanmar when he called for a review of the country’s constitution, adding that the law excluding Suu Kyi "doesn't make much sense."
Suu Kyi, the daughter of a hero of the independence movement who has spent years under house arrest, is hugely popular in Myanmar and her party is expected to triumph in next year’s election.
Last Mod: 26 Kasım 2014, 13:32