Parliament to vote on constitutional amendments

Parliament will vote next week on proposed amendments to the 2008 constitution, a long-awaited vote that has met fierce opposition and support on each sides.

The proposed amendments were written by the Charter Amendment Committee, which recommended 114 changes to be enacted before November’s general election. They include adding more civilian oversight to the military and eliminating targeted limitations that have kept Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of assuming the official presidency. However, the amendments require a 75 percent majority “yes” vote, and the military itself holds 25 percent of the seats in both houses, giving it all but veto power over the proposals, one of which would reduce the military’s share of parliament from 25 to 15 percent.

The road to the vote has been long and fraught with protests and demonstrations on both sides. It is likely that the Myanmar military will be ready to exercise its veto power if need be. The last time the military was forced to use its veto power, the military-backed USDP party leader was forced to resign. Even if the parliament passes the amendments, parts of the constitution require a national referendum for a change.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has pushed for changes. These changes include reducing the number of parliament seats reserved for the military from 25 percent to 15 percent, giving the civilian president oversight over the military and removing a targeted clause that prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president due to her foreign children. The vote will be held on Tuesday, March 11.

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