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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More