NLD's Parliament Entry on Monday in Doubt

By Nyein Nyein 19 April 2012

Burma’s main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) appears unlikely to take up its 43 parliamentary seats on Monday as the wrangle over the admission oath continues.

Nyan Win, the general secretary of the party, is currently in the capital Naypyidaw to discuss the matter with the Constitutional Court.

The NLD won 43 out of the 44 constituencies they contested at the April 1 by-elections, but there is reluctance to accept the parliamentary admission oath which states that MPs must “protect” the Constitution.

The main opposition group campaigned on a platform which promised to fight for amendments to non-democratic articles within the widely-condemned 2008 Constitution that guarantees 25 percent of legislative seats for the military.

The NLD boycotted the 2010 general elections over the issue, and only stood this month because the government amended an election law that originally stated that parties must “abide by and protect” the Constitution to read “abide by and respect.”

The MPs are supposed to be in Naypyidaw on April 22 to be ready for April 23 parliamentary opening, and it was hoped that a similar alteration could be rushed through to allow them to participate.

Ohn Kyain, NLD spokesperson and an MP-elect, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that, “previously we planned to travel to Naypyidaw on April 22, but the Constitutional Court called U Nyan Win yesterday to come to Naypyidaw. So he went there today. We do not know what issue they will be discussing there. Therefore, we have not made any decision yet.”

In the meantime, the NLD is providing four days legal training to its 43 elected MPs at its Rangoon headquarters starting from Thursday.

Win Myint, a legal consultant, MP-elect and NLD executive committee member, is leading the course. Discussion topics cover issues such as 2008 Constitution, including suggested amendments, and the parliamentary manual.

Phyu Phyu Thin, the new MP for Rangoon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt constituency, said that, “we have discussed the laws which are needed to change the Constitution.”

Ohn Kyain said he believes that the oath issue will eventually be sorted out as the government and NLD only recently managed to successfully negotiate the re-registration of the party to take part in the by-elections.