Myanmar’s junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said he often had negotiations to remove the constitutional ban on State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi becoming president under her National League for Democracy (NLD) government.
He reportedly told his regime’s cabinet in Naypyitaw on Thursday that he was frequently approached to negotiate amendments to the notorious Article 59(f) of the 2008 Constitution. He did not say who came to negotiate.
Article 59(f) of the military-drafted constitution bars anyone from becoming president if their spouse, either of their parents or any of their children or their children’s spouses are citizens of a foreign country. The article is widely viewed as targeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose children are British, as was her late husband while the military claimed it protected Myanmar from foreign influence.
The comments come after several reports that the February coup was triggered because Daw Aung San Suu Kyi refused Min Aung Hlaing the presidency when he asked after his allied political parties were crushed by the NLD in the November 2020 general election.
Min Aung Hlaing said he accepted constitutional reform was needed but it must not undermine the union’s integrity, national solidarity and Myanmar’s sovereignty.
The anti-democratic 2008 Constitution was adopted in a rigged referendum while the country was reeling from the devastating Cyclone Nargis.
In 2019, the NLD and several ethnic-minority parties put forward more than 3,700 constitutional amendments, including the scrapping of Article 59(f).
However, the efforts that lasted more than a year were vetoed by military-appointed MPs with support from the allied Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Under the 2008 charter, constitutional amendments require the approval of more than 75 percent of parliament and the military was allocated 25 percent of seats, giving it powers of veto.
Followed after the coup, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw — formed by elected lawmakers mostly from the NLD who were prevented from taking their seats by the Feb. 1 coup — declared the 2008 Constitution had been abolished.
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