MPs set to vote on constitutional amendment bill

MPs of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw debate amendment of provisions in Constitution.—MNA
MPs of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw debate amendment of provisions in Constitution.—MNA

Nay Pyi Taw, 24 June — After three days of debate, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw will vote Thursday on an amendment bill for the 2008 Constitution that
proposes altering eligibility requirements for the presidency and removing the military’s effective veto over constitutional reforms.
During the second day of parliamentary debate Wednesday, 17 lawmakers discussed key changes to the procedures for amending the constitution, as well as current restrictions on eligibility for the presidency.
The constitutional amendment bill deals with Section 436 (a) which currently stipulates that amendments of some key provisions must be agreed upon by more than 75 percent of MPs in addition to more than 50 percent of eligible voters in a referendum.
The amendment bill proposes a change to at least 70 percent of MPs at Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and over 50 percent of the eligible voters in the referendum respectively.
Article 436 of the constitution guarantees the military a quarter of the seats in parliament through appointment, giving them an effective veto over proposed charter reforms.
Other sensitive sections such as 59(f), 59(d) and 60(c) dealing with eligibility to become president and requirement for running the presidency, will also be put to the vote on the same day.
Brig-Gen Tin Soe, a military MP in the parliament, argued against amending Section 59 (f) which bars non-citizens from becoming president or vice-president, as well as anyone with a spouse, “legitimate child,” or child’s spouse who holds foreign citizenship.
If family members of the head of a country are loyal to a foreign power, the country could fall into servitude of that foreign country, Brig-Gen Tin Soe said.
Meanwhile, two MPs from the National League for Democracy party said they and other parties share a desire to amend the constitution, although their specific position on the amendments may differ somewhat.
During the debate, NLD MP U Aung Kyi Nyunt said an amendment to Section 59 (f) proposed by the ruling USDP that excludes just “one of the legitimate children or their spouses” from the section could be deceptive.
He continued to say that the Section 436 (a), which states that the constitution shall be amended with approval of more than 75 percent of all MPs of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, means nothing can be done without the consent of military MPs and called for its amendment. U Jay Yaw Wu of the National Unity Party said the section should not be amended.
Some MPs from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party supported the amendment to the Section 60 (c) dealing with the eligibility for the presidency, stating that the president shall be selected from elected MPs.
Two MPs from the National Democratic Force party objected to the amendment of Section 60 (c) and the Section 436 (a). GNLM

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