Military a Possible No Show For Parliament Debate on Amending Constitution

By Htet Naing Zaw 1 February 2019

NAYPYITAW — It remains unclear whether military lawmakers in the Union Parliament will join a legislative debate on a proposal to form a special committee to discuss amendments to the military-drafted Constitution.

U Aung Kyi Nyunt, a lawmaker for the ruling National League for Democracy, proposed forming a committee of fellow legislators to draft possible amendments on Tuesday. Brig. Gen. Maung Maung, who heads the military’s constitutionally mandated 25-percent bloc in Parliament, immediately objected to the idea and said it would be in breach of the rules. Despite a boycott by the military lawmakers and some of their allies, Parliament voted to discuss the proposal at a later date.

Lawmakers wishing to join the debate were to register with Parliament by 4 p.m. Thursday.

Following Thursday’s Parliament session, Brig. Gen. Maung Maung told reporters that the military had yet to decide whether to participate. When The Irrawaddy called Parliament at about 4 p.m. that afternoon to find out if any military lawmakers had registered, officials declined to comment.

About an hour after the deadline, one military lawmaker, speaking to The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity, suggested they would not join the discussion.

“We boycotted the vote because the proposal was not submitted in line with procedures. If we participate in the debate, it would be interpreted that we approve the proposal,” the military lawmaker said.

Military lawmakers also sent a formal letter of complaint to the Union Parliament speaker.

U Aung Kyi Nyunt encouraged the military to take part in the discussion.

“Brig. Gen. Maung Maung said that they do not oppose amending the Constitution. So they should participate. And we don’t even need to invite them,” he said.

Lawmakers said more than 60 of them have registered, including those from the NLD, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party and some ethnic-based parties.

USDP lawmaker U Thaung Aye said he would join the debate to voice his objections to the proposal.

Lawmakers said the debate might be scheduled for next week.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.