December 16, 2017
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New Constitution draft at variance with 2008 Constitution

The 2008 Constitution endows unusual power and privileges to the military and restricts a multi-party democratic system of government in Myanmar.

U Aye Thar Aung, Chairman of the Arakan League of Democracy (ALD), who is a member of the drafting committee of the Constitution, told Mizzima on September 24 that the new Constitution drafted by ethnic organizations will be a complete opposite of the current 2008 Constitution.  

The new Constitution draft was supposed to be completed by October, however, U Aye Thar Aung informed that the law will be finalized in November. He added that the draft will not be submitted to the Parliament but at a national conference which will probably take place in a foreign country.

During the “All Ethnic Nationalities Conference” held in August, ethnic organizations including United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), made a unanimous decision to draft a new Constitution and formed a drafting committee.

“We amended the part that says that the military has to take a leading role in national politics in the 2008 Constitution. We did not amend the Constitution unfairly. It is very different from the current Constitution as we were guided by democratic principles while drafting it”, said U Aye Thar Aung.

The political parties have made efforts to amend 8 Sections and more than 400 Acts of the 2008 Constitution, apart from drafting new constitutional laws. They have also formed a committee with Union MPs to review the 2008 Constitution.

Furthermore, the report of amendments to the Constitution will be announced by the National League for Democracy (NLD) together with the ethnic organizations in November.

“We will amend and make changes only at the national conference. We presume that the task would not be easy. It is not possible to amend parts of the 2008 Constitution, on the basis of suggestions by a political party. I believe that just amending some Acts from the current Constitution would not be of much help. It has to be examined from the beginning to the end”, said U Aye Thar Aung.

“It is not very easy for parties like ours to amend the Constitution. There are obstacles before us”, said U Pu Kham Lyan, General Secretary of the Zomi Congress of Democracy, a political party that has been taking active part in the discussions on amending the Constitution with the NLD.

On September 13, the NLD Chairman Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, “It shows that the government is not willing to reform if it does not support and encourage efforts concerning amendment of the Constitution”, referring to the report which is to be submitted to the Union Parliament at the end of the year by the commission reviewing the Constitution.

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