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Military

Burma Election Commission Warns Suu Kyi Over ‘Challenging the Army’

A “warning letter” says the National League for Democracy chairwoman’s recent comments at a rally for constitutional change violated her oath to Parliament.


RANGOON — Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) has issued a warning to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi over her challenge to the country’s military to amend the 2008 Constitution.

Suu Kyi has been speaking around the country in recent weeks as part of a campaign—led by her National League for Democracy (NLD) and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society former students group—to have the charter amended to remove the military’s veto on constitutional amendments.

In a letter posted on Facebook by an NLD staffer on Monday, the UEC said that during a rally in Mandalay on May 18, Suu Kyi appeared to violate an oath she made when she became a parliamentarian in 2012 and the charter’s rules for Burmese political parties.

“We are doing this not to gain power, nor to get any special opportunity. I want the army to prove that they wish to amend this Constitution,” the statement quoted Suu Kyi saying.

The comments, the statement said, amounted to the NLD chairwoman “challenging the army.”

“You are speaking outside of the boundaries of the Constitution,” the letter to Suu Kyi, signed by UEC Secretary Tin Tun, said.

The oath read by those joining Parliament includes a pledge to “uphold and abide by the Constitution.” Chapter 10 of the Constitution—which was drafted by Burma’s former military regime—demands that political parties must “abide by and respect this Constitution and the existing laws.”

UEC Director Hla Maung Cho told The Irrawaddy that the letter was “just a warning” to the opposition leader.

“We sent a warning letter to her because we found that she condemned the army,” he said.

Win Myint, a member of the NLD’s central committee, said the speech did not violate the oath or the Constitution.

“I do not see that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi violated the law in her speech. She only asked the army to demonstrate their wish to amend the Constitution,” said Win Myint.

The 2008 Constitution guarantees the military a place in national politics and gives 25 percent of parliamentary seats to unelected army officials.

Rallies are taking place across the country with the aim of demonstrating public support for amending the charter. The 88 Generation and NLD-led campaign has agreed to first focus on changing Article 436— which demands that three-quarters of the Parliament approve constitutional amendments.

During the Mandalay rally, Suu Kyi said that the current Constitution is not democratic because it grants the military special powers.

“I want to challenge them [military officials] to amend the Constitution within this year, from within the boundaries of the law and via the Parliament. If they truly love the country, respect the citizens: Think of the future of the country and be brave enough,” she told the crowd in Burma’s second-largest city.