News / Asia

Burma's President Supports Changing Army-Drafted Constitution

Burma's President Thein Sein gives a speech during a meeting with local civil society organizations in  Diamond Jubilee Hall of Yangon University in Rangoon, Nov. 30, 2013.
Burma's President Thein Sein gives a speech during a meeting with local civil society organizations in Diamond Jubilee Hall of Yangon University in Rangoon, Nov. 30, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Burma's president gave his backing on Thursday for amending a military drafted constitution and indicated support for changes that would make Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi eligible to lead the country.

Thein Sein, the reformist general and former top member of the army regime that ruled Burma, also known as Myanmar, for 49 years, said changing the constitution could help national reconciliation and he did not support laws that bar anyone from becoming president.

“I would not want restrictions being imposed on the right of any citizen to become the leader of the country,” Thein Sein said in a monthly televised address to the nation.

“At the same time, we will need to have all necessary measures in place in order to defend our national interests and sovereignty.”

The comments by the president are likely to be welcomed by opposition leader Suu Kyi, the 68-year-old leader of a peaceful two-decade struggle against military dictatorship, who has in recent months stated her wish to become president.

For now, Suu Kyi is ineligible for the top post because her two sons are British citizens.

The comments are the latest show of openness by a president who has surprised the world with an array of reforms that were unimaginable under the junta, like the release of hundreds of political prisoners, liberal investment laws, legalizing protests and scrapping of media censorship.

Thein Sein, 68, has yet to declare whether or not he will retire from politics after the next election in 2015, or seek a second term. Other contenders include parliament speaker, Shwe Mann, 66, another key reformer who outranked Thein Sein in the former junta.

According to Burma's constitution, the legislature, not the people, are responsible for choosing a president.

Three panels representing the lower house, the senate and lawmakers chosen by the military each nominate a presidential candidate. A vote of the bicameral parliament then takes place, where one of the three candidates is chosen as leader.

Burma's parliament has appointed a committee to draft recommendations about how to change the constitution, which critics say is too centralized and offers too much power to the military.

The committee said on Wednesday it had received 323,110 suggestions via 28,247 letters ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline for public feedback. It is expected to submit its report during the next house session, which starts on Jan. 13.

Han Tha Myint, a senior member of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, said the NLD had no immediate comment on the president's speech.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: San from: australia
January 02, 2014 4:28 PM
What an unbelievable thing this government do. Great job Mr president.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid