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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.