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.
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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid