The Irrawaddy

Rangoon Division Official Proposes 12-Party Constitutional Reform Talks

Lawmakers leave Rangoon Division parliament on Tuesday. (Photo: May Kha / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — A Rangoon Division cabinet member has raised a proposal in the local legislature to hold “12-party talks” on constitutional reforms, after the national Parliament’s suggestion told hold six-party talks on the issue was ignored by the president and the Burma Army chief last month.

Rangoon Division’s Karen Nationalities Minister Tun Aung Myint on Tuesday submitted an urgent proposal to Rangoon Divisional parliament to hold 12 party talks that would include the president, the army chief, the speakers of both Houses of Parliament, Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives from the seven major ethnic groups represented in Burma’s ethnic states.

“I submit the proposal because rather than the six-party talks, I personally think that we should expand the number of participants up to 12, which could be better and more inclusive,” he told Rangoon Division parliament.

Rangoon parliament will discuss the proposal tomorrow. According to procedures, if it agrees to the proposal it will submitted to the union government. The president can then send it back to the national Parliament with a remark for further discussion.

On Nov 25, the national Parliament agreed to a proposal by a ruling party lawmaker calling for six-party talks between President Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, the speakers from the Houses of Parliament, Suu Kyi and one ethnic party representative. But the proposal was quickly rejected by the president and the army chief.

Tun Aung Myint, who is the president of the Karen National Party, said his proposal to include more ethnic representatives would better reflect the minorities in the constitutional reform discussions.

Since early 2014, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and the 88 Student Generation Peace and Open Society have been calling and campaigning for reforms to Burma’s undemocratic and unpopular charter, which guarantees the Burma Army considerable political powers and blocks Suu Kyi from the presidency.

However, despite some parliamentary discussions and vague promises by the ruling Union Solidarity Development Party, there has been no progress. In recent weeks, it has appeared that the Thein Sein administration and Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing are intent on blocking significant charter reforms.