Military, USDP, ANP Withhold Nominees For Constitution Amendment Committee

By Htet Naing Zaw 18 February 2019

NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar military and two political parties have not submitted lists of nominees for a pending committee to draft amendments to the Constitution, which the Union Parliament is due to form on Tuesday.

U Myat Nyana Soe, a lawmaker for the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), said Parliament had yet to receive lists from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Arakan National Party (ANP) and the military, which is guaranteed 25 percent of national and local legislative seats by the Constitution.

“Twelve political parties and independent representatives have submitted lists of nominees. If those parties and that institution do not submit name lists, we can exclude them and share their quotas with the other parties to form the committee. But we won’t do that,” he told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

According to a draft plan distributed to lawmakers, the committee will comprise 44 members: 18 from the NLD, eight from the military, two from the USDP, one independent representative, and one each from ethnic minority parties.

USDP lawmaker U Thaung Aye told reporters on Monday that no decisions could be made at two preliminary meetings on how to form the committee and that the NLD was being arrogant in pushing ahead with it.

“The Tatmadaw [military] is also not happy with it, and the Tatmadaw representatives and I held talks with the speaker and deputy speaker this morning. The speaker said he is just implementing the proposal by taking everything into consideration,” U Thaung Aye said.

Monday’s Lower House session was delayed about 20 minutes by the discussion.

U Thaung Aye said his party had yet to decide how to proceed.

U Myat Nyana Soe, who will serve as the committee’s secretary, said the body was being formed in line with parliamentary laws after legislators overwhelmingly approved a proposal to form the committee on Feb. 6.

“This is the proposal approved by the Union Parliament. As I’ve said, we can’t switch into reverse gear. We have to implement the proposal. The other side says we are democratic dictators and that we bully democratically. It is not true,” he told The Irrawaddy.

ANP lawmaker U Pe Than said his party did not submit a list of nominees because it was designated only one seat on the committee but wanted two.

“In general we decided to join the committee. But we are confused about the tasks of the committee. We are still discussing about its tasks,” he said.

U Pe Than cited a section of the Constitution that says amendments must be proposed to Parliament with the support of at least 20 percent of lawmakers. The military and USDP have cited it to object to the committee’s formation, but the NLD says the section has no bearing because the committee is only meant to draft amendments that would go into a formal proposal at a future date.

The NLD holds 59 percent of the seats in Parliament, ethnic parties hold 11 percent, the USDP holds 5 percent, and the military holds 25 percent.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.