NLD Celebrates 31st Anniversary, Says Myanmar’s Democracy Not Yet ‘Genuine’

By Htun Htun 27 September 2019

YANGON—The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party celebrated the 31st anniversary of its founding on Friday but an NLD spokesperson said that the democracy Myanmar now enjoys is not yet genuine and the country has not established a genuine federal Union.

“We need to fix it to make it a genuine democracy that is acceptable to the majority of the people,” said NLD spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt. “The facts that there are unelected officials in the Parliament and that people can’t elect the entire administrative body are clear examples that show our democracy is not genuine,” said the spokesperson.

Under the 2008 Constitution, the Myanmar military holds 25 percent of seats in the national and sub-national legislatures. The military also controls three key ministries: the ministries of defense, home affairs and border affairs.

“A genuine democracy is one that is based on liberty, equality and justice,” said Dr. Myo Nyunt.

The NLD has been trying to amend the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and the Parliament has been debating proposed constitutional amendments submitted by the Charter Amendment Committee, which was formed in response to a proposal by the NLD.

Military-appointed lawmakers and the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party, however, have opposed the process, saying that it was initiated in violation of the procedures of the Constitution.

On Sept. 17, military-appointed lawmakers proposed amending the Constitution to bar anyone who has a foreign citizen in their immediate family from becoming a Union minister or chief minister, in a move viewed by many as targeting State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The proposed amendment would be in addition to Article 59(f) of the Constitution, which bars anyone with a foreign citizen in their immediate family from the presidency, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a 31st anniversary declaration, the NLD said the charter amendment process is a challenge for all citizens to take up. The party also said the reform process is necessary for the country and that every citizen must participate and take responsibility for it.

NLD party officials said during a celebration of the party’s 31st anniversary that they believe the people will continue to support their party.

They also said the party is pursuing a strategy to ensure a landslide victory in the 2020 general election and that the party has no intention to form a coalition government in 2020.

The NLD has recently drawn criticism from ethnic parties for its establishment of an ethnic affairs committee. Ethnic parties called the NLD’s move proof that the ruling party is trying to compete with them for the support of ethnic voters. Ethnic leaders said that the strategy won’t succeed and that the NLD is not genuinely interested in working with them on issues of importance to the country’s ethnic communities.

The NLD 31st anniversary celebration was held at the party headquarters on Friday and attended by Patron U Tin Oo, central executive committee members and Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein.

The party was formed on Sept. 27, 1988, following the 8888 Uprising. It was at the time chaired by U Aung Gyi. U Tin Oo, now party patron, served as the vice-chairman and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, now party chairwoman, served as the general secretary.

At present, Myanmar President U Win Myint is the first vice-chairman and Mandalay Region Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung is the second vice-chairman of the party.