Charter Must Be Amended After Dialogue With Ethnic Rebels: Thein Sein


Burmese President Thein Sein delivers his monthly radio address. (Photo: The President’s Office)

RANGOON — President Thein Sein has said that amendments to Burma’s Constitution will be needed after a nationwide ceasefire has been signed and the government has conducted political dialogue with country’s ethnic armed groups.

Speaking to the nation in his monthly radio speech, first broadcast Saturday, Thein Sein reaffirmed his support for making amendments to the charter, which was introduced by the former military regime in 2008.

“We must all accept the basic rule that a living, breathing Constitution is always evolving and changes must be made under the right conditions and at the appropriate time in harmony with society’s political, economic, and social needs,” he said, according to an English-language translation of the speech printed by the New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Thein Sein mentioned the current opposition signature campaign calling for the amendment of Article 436 of the Constitution—which gives the military a veto over amendments—and referred to a parliamentary committee currently mulling proposed amendments, without expressing support or opposition to specific changes.

But the president pointed out that the peace process initiated since his government took power in 2011 will require amendments at a later date. The country’s ethnic minorities, many of which have been fighting insurgencies for more than five decades against the Burmese government, are broadly opposed to the current charter, and want it to be changed to reflect federalist principles.

“Agreements reached during political dialogue, an important aspect of the peace process, will require amendments to the Constitution,” the president said, referring to the talks expected after the ethnic armed groups’ representatives and government negotiators agree upon a nationwide ceasefire.

Thein Sein also played down concerns that the ceasefire talks are taking a long time, saying that delays of six months or so are short compared to the time that peace processes have taken in other countries.

“Everyone involved in the Constitution amendment process will need to be principled and benevolent,” he added.

Sai Saw Than Myint, deputy chairman of Federal Union Party, said he welcomed the president’s indication that political dialogue will result in amendments of the Constitution.

“Peace negotiation talks are in discussion. All ethnic armed group leaders have the same intention, of building a federal union. That requires amendments of the 2008 Constitution anyhow. I understood when the president spoke about this,” he told The Irrawaddy.

He said it appeared the president was open to having input from ethnic groups over amending the Constitution.

“If amendments were done only by the Parliament, without listening and leaving out the voices of the ethnics, that would not be a complete Constitution based on a federal union,” Sai Saw Than Myint said.

The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society and the National League for Democracy (NLD) have started a nationwide campaign to collect signatures in support of amending Article 436, which will run until July 19.

NLD Chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi has addressed concerns that amending Article 436, and possible later removing Article 59(f)—which bars her from the presidency—would only further the aims of the ethnic majority Burman people.

“What do ethnic people want? Genuine democracy. A genuine union based on federalist principles,” she said during a rally in Rangoon on May 17. “Calls for federalism—our NLD has always supported this, even in times when it was seen as a crime by authorities to even speak about federalism.”

However, Myint Myint Wai, a legal advisor to the All Mon Region Democracy Party, said she believed the campaign was more concerned with hurriedly amending the charter in Suu Kyi’s favor ahead of elections in 2015

“The 2014 by-election is quite close. The 2015 election will happen soon. While these elections are important, we’ve got little time. We do not have enough time to work to amend the Constitution,” she said.

12 Responses to Charter Must Be Amended After Dialogue With Ethnic Rebels: Thein Sein

  1. >>Civil War is due largely to screw up Constitution>>as a PM, he should know>>

    >>maybe he is playing games>>according to his boss’ whims>>to buy time>>

    >>or pretending to be stupid>>

  2. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U.1976

    So called President U Thein Sein : Please don’t say Eloquent flowery Words of Charter must be Amended without implementing,but Delaying & Procrastination.
    Amending the Charter is long Overdue.The Majority People favor it.Please do not ever deceive/fool the people who are your Benefactors.
    You Military Guys are very long enough holding the Power without the People’s Consent Since 1962.
    By using Forces,Waging War against Ethnic Minorities,Oppressing, Bullying,Killing,Looting Country’s Budget & Vast amount of Land from the People are No Popular in Current Globalization.
    Only A Man Need 6 feets Square at his Last Breath ( For Some Greedy Army Persons to Consider.)And don’t assume that Every Land in Burma, Army’s Land.

  3. Political dialogue will take forever. It means Thein Sein is knowingly delaying the constitutional amendment in order to have upper hand against NLD and Suu Kyi. If Thein Sein is a real man, he has to face the truth. That truth is the will of the people. If he has no gut to face the truth, the people will face him. Peace Talk does not require ceasefire talk. Peace can be only achieved if we have political dialogue and agreement. True ceasefire will happen only when political solution is achieved. Thein Sein’s tactic is only for the benefit of USDP, not for the interest of the public.

  4. Ethnics and Suu Kyi are on the same pace which is to form genuine democratic governmwent in the Union of Myanmar based on federalist system. If ethnics are not standing firmly with Suu Kyi, ethnics will face to climb steep uphill for what they are demanding. At the same time, millions of Myanmar people will come out and show their support for Suu Kyi because she campaigns for the millions of Myanmar people too. Suu Kyi represents all of us, I mean all of us, both Myanmars and ethnics. Suu Kyi must not be seen as selfish and greedy. She sacrifices for all of us enough and she deserves to be our leader.

  5. What Thein Sein and USDP members think is not for the interest of the public but for their own. Holding on to power for eternity is what they are working for. Holding on to power death or alive is USDP’s goal. I do not blame them because they are so afraid of getting hung by the people. They committed to many crimes against humanity. Instead of going to death chambers, they are determined to kill others. It is difficult to put blame on them because I know that they try to escape capital punishment which awaits these crooks.

  6. It is good to hear that President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Su Kyi are not contradictory to each other. Federalism should go first. Daw Su has had been very patient and therefore just try to be patient to go for presidency soon as need to avoid potential blood shed or dis-harmony among military crowd. You should congratulate your self to be able to move out to a stage when we can talk about federalism and others. On the other hand you are already been seen as a President by your foreign counterparts. There are only three types of people. Those who are born of power, those who are given the power and those who got the power as they deserve it.

  7. Maung thein sein is not his own boy but dancing according to daw kyaing kyaing’s classical music. Majority myanmarese people and all ethnics want to change or make amendment. Two third of the votes is good enough to make amendment. 75% is absolutely not a good one. Than shwe wanted to leave the nargis constitution unamended forever. It is not a good idea. Rewriting a brand new democratic constitution might be easier than making endless alteration on countless holes. If it was written with good and clean intention, we would already see peace in the land. The problem is that it was not drafted honestly and sincerely. It was drafted to build fake democratic nation.

  8. Who is running Burma at this moment as we speak? USDP and Thein Sein groups running Burma with 2008 constitution is only half true. If Thein Sein and USDP or so called true Burmese are running Burma, why does Thein Sein need legitimacy from western countries? Is Thein Sein government clean from foreign governments such as EU, US, China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea, India and ASEAN countries? I think and I know that those countries influences toward Burma is much greater in Thein Sein hands than Aung San Suu Kyi or any other Burmese leaders. In 21 century, no country can live without outside influences which include US, Russia, and China. It is plain and simple lies that Thein Sein declaring that Burma will be rule by foreigners if Burmese people change constitution. In reality, China and some European countries already rule Burma. Burmese farmers are loosing their land to Chinese, Japanese and Western countries companies. Can they even ask for fairness for their land that they loose? What a joke “Burma will be rule by foreigner”???? Burma is already rule by foreigners.

  9. Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow but never jam today.

  10. If Thein Sein believes the need of constitutional amendment, just do the amendment. Peace Talk with the ethnics will never end because under the nargis constitution, there is no room for federal system which the ethnics are demanding. So, amending the nargis constitution is very important to see peace in the land. Myanmars are demanding amendment and the ethnics’ demand also can be met only if there is room for federalism in the constitution. So, Thein Sein just tries to delay democracy and federal system. Thein Sein’s new name is “Mr. Puppet” because he does not have his own gut to run things but dancing according to Than Shwe’s tune.

  11. There is nothing we can be proud of from this regime. Union solidarity and development party? What are they talking about? What has thein sein been talking about? We don’t want thein sein and his usdp to lead us. We did not elect him. We did not vote for usdp. Cheating and lying must stop.

  12. This guy has been talking a lot. No promise has been made. Nothing has been done. In fact he and the whole gang of Military guys will not allow another arm force in Burma. He will not allow another person to be the head of Burma other than form his gang. Watch out people and the world, you will be outplayed and outsmarted by Thein Sein.

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