Myanmar Parliament Sets Debate for Charter Reform, Caps Military Participation

By Htun Htun & Kyaw Myo 21 February 2020

YANGON—The Union Parliament announced on Friday that it will debate bills to amend the 2008 Constitution on Feb. 25 and that only one-third of military lawmakers who registered for the debate will be allowed to take part. The debate is expected to finish on March 5.

A total of 282 lawmakers—164 from the military, 69 from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party and 49 from ethnic parties—registered earlier this week to take part in the debate.

However, the Union Parliament speaker has limited the number of participants to 149. According to the list released on Friday, 50 lawmakers will participate from both the military and the NLD and 49 will join from ethnic parties. The NLD will be allowed 19 fewer lawmakers than it had registered.

Lawmakers will be allotted eight minutes each to present their arguments in the debate, rather than the six minutes normally allotted for parliamentary debate.

The NLD-led charter amendment committee has submitted two bills and the military and the Union Solidarity and Development Party have submitted five. The Joint Bill Committee has reorganized the bills into two groups, with a total of 142 proposed amendments, which the Parliament will debate at the same time.

The first group consists of amendments covered by Article 436 (a), which currently requires some amendments to be approved by more than 75 percent of Parliament as well as over 50 percent of voters in a popular referendum in order to pass. The second group consists of amendments covered by Article 436 (b), which states that some amendments to the charter must be approved by more than 75 percent of Parliament but do not require a referendum.

“Lawmakers are expected to exercise caution to avoid comments in their debate that can be disrespectful to a particular political party, institution, individual or ethnic group,” Union Parliament Speaker T Khun Myat urged the Parliament on Friday.

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