News / Asia

    Burmese Election Commission Accused of Bias Over Suu Kyi Warnings

    Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech calling for the amendment of the 2008 Constitution at a rally in Boseinman Stadium in Rangoon, May 17, 2014
    Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech calling for the amendment of the 2008 Constitution at a rally in Boseinman Stadium in Rangoon, May 17, 2014
    Gabrielle Paluch
    International rights groups are questioning the independence of Burma's election commission, after it accused opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi of speaking in violation of the constitution at public rallies. Her party, the National League for Democracy, has been urging the people to test parliament, and petition for constitutional change.

    Aung San Suu Kyi has taken a more politically aggressive tone at campaign rallies in recent months, coming out strong against the military’s role in politics and launching petitions to change the constitution.
     
    One key proposal advocates changing the parliament’s heavy tilt in favor of the military. The constitution reserves 25% of parliamentary seats for the military, and any change to the constitution's charter requires a 75% majority. This gives the military an effective veto over any changes.
     
    Last month, the country’s election commission took note of Suu Kyi’s campaigning and issued a formal warning letter accusing her of speaking outside the bounds of the constitution, which requires parliamentarians to "abide by and uphold" the constitution.
     
    National League for Democracy spokesperson and lawyer Nyan Win said the election commission is acting beyond its powers and its accusation misrepresents her comments.
     
    "We want the army role in the parliament to reduce -- this is our will," Nyan Win said. " But she did not say that in the rally." 
     
    As Suu Kyi publicly campaigns for her proposals, President Thein Sein has responded saying that before the country changes the constitution, the government should first complete peace talks with ethnic groups and strike a unilateral ceasefire. The NLD opposes this view.
     
    New York-based international rights group Human Rights Watch this week issued a statement asking the election commission to immediately cease its intimidation of Suu Kyi and her party.
     
    Asia deputy director Phil Robertson says the election commission has accused Suu Kyi of violating electoral rules that do not yet exist, and the comments demonstrate a military bias of an ostensibly independent electoral body.
     
    "The political reality is that there's a government within a government. And that government within the government is the Burmese military," Robertson noted. "The Burmese military have done nothing to reform themselves to step back from the powers they've acquired under the 2008 constitution, and have essentially unlimited ability through the likes of former army general Tin Aye the chair of the electoral commission, to influence the 2015 elections in a significant way."
     
    Robertson also pointed out that the 2008 constitution was drafted by the military, and "jammed through" in a referendum deemed unfair by observers.
     
    More rallies are planned for the rest of the month in states home to ethnic minorities, including in the capital of Rakhine state, Sittwe.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora