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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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.

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