Army Chief Says Military Representation in Parliament Still Necessary

By The Irrawaddy 9 November 2016

RANGOON — Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing said Burma Army representation in Parliament is still needed because of the delicate multiparty democracy in the country, at the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) meeting in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday.

The Burma Army controls 25 percent of the seats in Parliament, as well as three ministries: defense, home affairs and border affairs, as stated by the 2008 military-drafted Constitution.

As Burma was under the military’s centralized rule for more than 50 years until 2011, “the dissatisfaction based on suffering” under the junta, “is a concern for the stability and smoothness” of the current democratic transition, the commander-in-chief said of the military’s role in a democratic Burma at the EUMC meeting.

The army chief stated that the military carries out its tasks under the government in line with the Constitution—which guarantees its role in political leadership.

He said the role of the Burma Army under the Provisions on State of Emergency in the Constitution state that it will not seize state power easily nor hold state power for long even if the armed forces take on the responsibility of the state under the agreement of the President.

While some view this as a statement affirming that there will not be a coup, many Burmese are unsure, unless the current government cooperates with the military.

But the senior-general said,  “When there is a firm guarantee for the State and the people, the armed forces will reconsider its role.”

The senior-general also discussed the country’s current peace process and the government’s efforts to reduce conflicts in the ethnic areas, adding that the armed forced were not fighting ethnic groups but rather those who were holding arms.

During his visit to the European Union this week, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing thanked the EU for its support and encouragement of Burma’s democratic reforms following the 2010 general election, but pressed for further assistance and collaboration in all sectors, especially military relations. Bilateral relations between Burma and EU member country militaries were cold after the 1988 nationwide uprising.

“The time has come for us to cooperate with each other in all sectors, including military relations,” said the commander-in-chief, as the Burma Army is currently improving military relations with many other countries.