Rangoon Parliament Proposes 12-Party Constitutional Talks to President

By May Kha 10 December 2014

RANGOON — Rangoon Division parliament on Wednesday approved a proposal urging the president, army chief, Aung San Suu Kyi and other political players to hold “12-party talks” on constitutional reforms.

The proposal will now be sent to President Thein Sein, who can decide to refer the proposal to Union Parliament with added remarks or to reject it.

Rangoon Division’s Karen Nationalities Minister Tun Aung Myint took the initiative on Tuesday to submit a 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, Suu Kyi and representatives from the seven major ethnic groups represented in Burma’s ethnic states.

On Wednesday, 14 lawmakers discussed it and it was later approved in a vote.

“As the parliament has passed the proposal, we’ll put it forward to the union government and then to the national Parliament step by step,” said Rangoon Division Parliament Speaker Sein Tin Win.

Tun Aung Myint said he had submitted the proposal for 12-party talks on constitutional reform as he believed that the involvement of more ethnic representatives would make the discussions more inclusive and therefore more likely to succeed.

In Sagaing Division parliament on Tuesday, one lawmaker also submitted a proposal calling for multi-party talks involving a number of ethnic representatives, including two from Sagaing Division, in order to resolve the charter reform issue.

The Rangoon Division parliament’s move is an attempt to address a looming deadlock on the discussions over charter reform. Late last month, President Thein Sein and Burma Army chief Min Aung Hlaing rejected a proposal, endorsed by the Union Parliament, for six-party talks on constitutional reform.

The plan would have seen Suu Kyi meet with Thein Sein, Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the speakers of both Houses of Parliament, and one representative of the ethnic parties.

For many months now, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has been calling for talks on reforming Burma’s undemocratic and unpopular charter, which guarantees the army considerable political powers and blocks Suu Kyi from the presidency.

However, despite some parliamentary discussions there has been no progress and it now appears that the Thein Sein administration and Burma Army are intent on blocking significant charter reforms.

A meeting between Thein Sein, Suu Kyi, the army chief and 11 other key political players was hastily organized shortly before US President Obama’s visit last month, but no concrete issues were discussed.