May 23, 2018
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New Constitution will be ready in a month: ethnic groups

Participants at the first Constitutional Review Committee meeting on August 23, 2013 in Naypyitaw. Photo: NLD

Aye Thar Aung, Chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) announced that starting September 3, ethnic parties and groups will draft a new Constitution and complete it by October.

He elaborated that the resolution to draft a new Constitution was passed at the inter-ethnic groups meeting held in August. Subsequently, a Committee to execute the task was formed with representatives from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) and other ethnic groups.

“At the meeting, we sought opinion of all ethnic parties and groups on the issue of amending the current Constitution or drafting a new one. It was unanimously agreed that a new Constitution should be drafted”, he added.

Sai Nyunt Lwin Shan, Secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), said that the Parliament has already constituted a Constitution Review Committee to amend the Constitution but the Inter Ethnic groups Conference agreed on drafting a new Constitution outside the Parliament.

He added, “This is the opinion of UNFC and UNA. If all other ethnic groups and parties agree on this stand, it will be approved and confirmed. If other ethnic groups and parties have a different opinion, we will have further discussions on the issue.”

According to some ethnic leaders, the Constitution that will be drafted by the ethnic groups and parties will be based on the concept of ethnic states, namely Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine and Shan. The concept of states based on ethnicity is a controversial one and is fraught with questions.

Hantharwady Win Tin, Patron of the National League for Democracy (NLD) told the media in August that in 1962, General Ne Win overthrew the elected government through a coup de tat on the pretext of putting an end to the issue of ethnic states, after some ethnic leaders raised the concept of demarcating states based on ethnic nationalities.

The highest legislative body in the nation, the Parliament, has formed a 109-member Constitution Review Committee to amend the Constitution.

NLD party MP Win Myint, who is a member of the Committee said, “We are trying our best to amend all undemocratic provisions in the Constitution. We know how to amend them too.”

“As everybody knows, there are 25 members from the army and 52 USDP members in the Committee, so they have the majority vote. We cannot say what will happen next as we are the minority,” Win Myint added.

The ethnic groups and parties have not yet disclosed how they will legally enforce the new Constitution.

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