USDP Accuses Ruling Party of Pushing Charter Amendments to Spur Protests

By Moe Moe 26 February 2019

NAYPYITAW — The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) on Monday accused the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) of bringing people onto the streets on the pretext of pushing for amendments to the military-drafted Constitution.

“While there is a need to think about how we should fulfill the needs of the people, we would say that it is not an honest act to carry out political activities in the name of amending the Constitution,” USDP spokesman U Nanda Hla Myint said at the press conference in Naypyitaw.

“Some people irresponsibly accuse us and have been misleading the people into thinking the Tatmadaw [military] and USDP are deliberately opposing the plan to amend the Constitution. In politics there must be honesty. I would say it is a dirty political trick that a party is playing in order to achieve victory,” he said.

NLD spokesman U Myo Nyunt denied the USDP’s accusations and said his party wanted to amend the Constitution in line with the law. Taking the offensive, he accused the USDP of using religion and nationalism to improve its own electoral fortunes.

“People will not be swayed by their accusations,” he told The Irrawaddy. “We don’t try to bring people onto the streets. It is our policy never to bring people onto the streets. We will only allow people to stage a demonstration in support of constitutional amendments in line with the law. It is an extreme thought that we are bringing people onto the streets,” U Myo Nyunt said.

U Nanda Hla Myint said that, although any amendments to the Constitution would affect all citizens, the NLD failed to consult all stakeholders before forming the committee now charged with drafting proposed changes. He also claimed that the committee, which the Union Parliament overwhelmingly approved last week, was in violation of the law.

U Myo Nyunt denied that too.

“A commission was formed under [former president] U Thein Sein to amend the Constitution, and we have formed a similar committee with a different name. I can’t accept that they said the committee is not in line with the law and that we have bent the rules,” he said.

Rallies in support of amending the Constitution have been held in several cities across Myanmar since the NLD proposed forming the drafting committee earlier this month.

On Sunday, about 500 people staged a demonstration in support of amendments in Sagaing Region. They said the Constitution was too undemocratic for Myanmar to achieve peace, human rights and genuine democracy.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.