Nationalists Protest in Naypyitaw Against Constitutional Amendments

By Htet Naing Zaw 11 March 2020

Naypyitaw — As the Union Parliament began to vote on suggested amendments to the 2008 Constitution on Tuesday, around 150 nationalists arrived in Naypyitaw to show support for the military.

The protesters arrived in 15 vehicles and made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Union Parliament.

U Zaw Weik of the Democratic Party of National Politics (DNP) told reporters: “We have come because we can’t accept any amendment to Article 59(f).” The clause prevents anyone with a foreign spouse or children from becoming president.

“We came to show support for the Tatmadaw [military] in its opposition to amendments,” said U Zaw Weik, adding that they would seek official permission to enter the Parliament Thursday.

U Kyaw Myo Shwe from Mandalay said they were voicing their opposition to altering 59(f), which bars State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency, and Article 361, which states that Buddhism is the majority faith.

“We have come to rally against the plans of the [National League for Democracy] to amend Article 59(f) and amend or scrap Article 361,” U Kyaw Myo Shwe told The Irrawaddy.

“While some provisions in the 2008 Constitution should be amended, some should be kept unchanged. We want to have a smooth transition and we are against the military always holding 25 percent of seats in the Parliament. It must be amended over time. But we can’t accept amending or scrapping Article 59(f), no matter which government or party is in power,” he added.

The nationalists all wore olive-green T-shirts printed with the Myanmar flag to show their support for the military, U Kyaw Myo Shwe said.

The parliamentary voting on amendments to the basic principles of the Union took place on Tuesday. Amendments to reduce the political role granted to the military under the 2008 Constitution were rejected. Only minor terminology on unimportant clauses was agreed.

The nationalists visited Uppatasanti Pagoda and DNP chairman U Soe Maung at the party office near the Naypyitaw military command.

U Soe Maung is a retired major general who served as judge advocate general under the military government. He was the minister of the President’s Office under President U Thein Sein.

“We will fight, not recklessly and only legally if nationalism is harmed. We welcome and will cooperate or ally ourselves with any individual, organization and party that serves nationalism. We can talk and hold discussions. But we can’t accept anything that harms nationalism,” U Soe Maung said.

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