Suu Kyi to Hold Constitutional Reform Rally in Karenni State

By Zarni Mann 30 October 2014

RANGOON — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to visit Karenni State next week to hold a rally calling for reforms to the Constitution, National League for Democracy (NLD) members said on Thursday. It will be the first visit by the NLD leader to impoverished ethnic region in 25 years.

Win Htein, a NLD lawmaker and Central Executive Committee member, said Suu Kyi was scheduled to visit the Karenni State capital Loikaw on Nov. 8.

“She will go there from Naypyidaw and spend only a day because she will have to attend Parliament on November 10. We are still arranging the whole trip,” he said.

“The public meeting will probably include the issues related to reforming the Constitution. She and the party couldn’t visit Kayah [Karenni] State earlier for a number of reasons,” he said. “So this trip will be the first time for the party to bring the constitutional reform talks to Kayah state.”

He added that Suu Kyi had not visited the region since 1989. Isolated and wracked by decades of ethnic conflict, Karenni State remains one of Burma’s poorest regions and suffers from legacies of war, such as landmines.

In February, Suu Kyi and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society activists launched a campaign calling on the public to support amendments to the 2008 Constitution.

The military-drafted charter gives the army political powers, such as control over a quarter of Parliament, while it prevents Suu Kyi from becoming president. Article 59(f) states that no one with a foreign spouse or child can become president; Suu Kyi has two sons who are British nationals.

NLD members have said Suu Kyi has planned to visit all 14 states and divisions in Burma and so far only Karenni, Mon and Arakan states have not had a visit from the popular opposition leader.

Despite holding large rallies in Rangoon, Naypyidaw, Mandalay and 11 states and divisions, Suu Kyi has made little progress towards constitutional reform, with the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the Burma Army ignoring her pleas for significant reforms.

Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann has instructed a committee to study changes to the Constitution, but it remains unclear what it will ultimately recommend and unlikely that politically significant amendments will take place before the 2015 elections.