Myanmar Military Slams NLD ‘Tyranny’ on Charter Change Committee

By Htet Naing Zaw 23 December 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Charter Amendment Committee can no longer be considered inclusive following the resignations of numerous members, and the National League for Democracy (NLD) is exercising a tyranny of the majority, said Major-General Tin Swe Win, who leads military lawmakers in Myanmar’s legislature, as he filed a complaint with the Speaker of the Union Parliament.

The Charter Amendment Committee—the mechanism the NLD is using to push constitutional reform—was formed in February with 45 members from 14 political parties, independent representatives and members of the military bloc in Parliament.

The parties were offered seats on the committee in proportion to the number of seats they hold in Parliament. The NLD holds 18 seats, the military holds eight and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) had two on the committee.

But in recent months, citing their disapproval with the committee’s process of drafting the amendment bill, two Arakan National Party lawmakers, two USDP lawmakers and one from the National United Democratic Party resigned their committee posts.

As the five members have resigned and the representative of the Lisu National Development Party has been absent from the committee meetings for nearly nine months, there is no longer proportional representation of parties on the committee, and the voting is not fair, the major-general said in his letter of complaint.

The NLD is tyrannizing the minority parties, pushing through its amendment proposals while ignoring those put forward by the ethnic parties, the complaint alleges.

For those reasons, the military lawmakers oppose the decisions and actions of the Charter Amendment Committee and call for a review of its work, it says.

U Lar Mar Lay, who represented the Lisu National Development Party on the committee, no longer attends its meetings because he was dismissed from the party.

“The ethnic parties are working together and have not made any complaints. All are working together amicably. As there is no pressure on anyone, the word ‘high-handed’ is a very serious accusation,” said NLD lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt, who represents the ruling party on the committee, referring to the military’s accusation against his party.

U Aung Kyi Nyunt submitted the proposal to form the committee to the Union Parliament in February.

“No one can act high-handedly. There are different options for amending each clause. We decide which option is the best by voting,” he said.

Ethnic Rakhine lawmaker U Pe Than of Myebon Township said the ruling party is focused solely on the 114 points it wants to amend in the Constitution.

“The constitutional amendment process will fail if either the military or the NLD opposes it. They need to cooperate. I think the complaint is [the military’s] signal that they will resign from the committee,” U Pe Than said.

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