News / Asia

Support Grows in Burma for Constitutional Change

FILE - Aung San Suu Kyi
FILE - Aung San Suu Kyi
Gabrielle Paluch
— Burma’s current constitution effectively bars Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president, but there are signs that that could change in time for the country’s 2015 national elections as proposals are being floated for amending the constitution to allow the Nobel Peace laureate to run.
 
Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, faces a deadline; in order for her to be able to run for president in elections slated for November 2015, the Burmese parliament must first push through necessary changes to the constitution.
 
This week, key political players voiced support for constitutional amendments but remained vague about exactly what changes they back.
 
The clause that could bar Aung San Suu Kyi's candidacy, 59(f), states that a presidential candidate's spouse, children or children's spouses may not hold foreign citizenship. Aung San Suu Kyi was married to deceased British author Michael Aris, and neither of the couple’s two adult sons have Burmese citizenship.
 
Another clause that would disqualify Suu Kyi requires presidential candidates to have military experience. Women were barred from military service in Burma until only recently.
 
President Thein Sein, who has said he would not seek a second term in office, came out in support of constitutional amendments in state media Thursday, saying a healthy constitution should be able to be changed.
 
Many in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, have seen Aung San Suu Kyi and her struggle against the former military government as a symbol for hope. Her supporters believe her presidency would be a measure of success for the country’s reform.
 
Ma Mwe was among some 30 protesters who came out in support of the amendments Friday in downtown Rangoon.
 
Ma said that in the 1990 election the Burmese people elected Suu Kyi to become the president of the country, but she was not allowed to become president. Ma said that this is totally against the will of the people in the country and why the constitution needs to be amended.
 
On Monday, the central committee of the ruling USDP party met in Naypyitaw to vote its support of 51 different constitutional amendments, including changes that could allow Aung San Suu Kyi to run.
 
Burma's constitution, approved in a 2008 referendum, requires a 75% majority to be amended; as 25% of the seats in Parliament are reserved for military appointees, any change must get backing from the powerful armed forces. It is at this time unclear if the military lawmakers back the constitutional changes to clear the path for Suu Kyi’s run.
 
In the past, military members of parliament have typically voted as a bloc, said Burma political analyst Richard Horsey.
 
Horsey said that although the president's support of the constitutional changes is a good sign, Thein Sein has no way of guaranteeing an amendment.
 
"We have a consensus among all the key political stakeholders in the country that some sort of constitutional change is required, but that is very far short of a consensus on what clauses need to be changed and what the new language should look like and when this should take place," said Horsey.
 
A number of other proposed constitutional amendments include changing how the chief justice and supreme court judges are chosen, and whether or not they are required to have legal experience. There are also proposals for granting a degree of autonomy to some ethnic groups observing a cease fire with the military.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid