We Will Work With Suu Kyi to Amend Constitution to ‘Benefit State’ — USDP

By Tha Lun Zaung Htet 16 May 2013

RANGOON —Burma’s ruling party would support amendments to the constitution proposed by the opposition National League for Democracy if they were “for the benefit of the state and the people of Burma,” senior ruling party officials told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

Aung Thaung, Union Solidarity and Development Party MP for Thaungtha Township and a former minister, added that the relationship between the USDP and the NLD has improved.

The comments come after NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday the USDP and NLD had come to a tentative agreement on amending the controversial 2008 constitution, which enshrines the military’s power in politics.

“We all have to work together to amend the constitution,” Aung Thaung told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “Some parts of the constitution may be amended by the NLD and some may not. We are going to work together. We don’t think everything must be done according to our desires.”

“If the changes benefit the state and its people we will support them, so long as they [the NLD] support our actions,” he continued. “We are currently trying to build trust between us.”

Aung Thaung added that although the old adversaries had been working together in parliament, it was too early to say whether they could co-operate in government after the 2015 election.

“It is difficult to say whether we will be allies or not. We have different ideas about state building and party rules, but we also have similar ideals, such as to improve people’s lives, improve the country, forge ethnic unity and let democracy flourish,” he said. “But we might have different ideas about how to go about this.”

Htay Oo, USDP vice chairman, said the party is ready to work with the NLD.

“We are all going to work together, we want to. We can discuss all relevant matters; the sovereignty of the state, unity and ethnic groups and so on,” he said on Thursday. “We regard the NLD as our partner. We have different ideas, but for the sake of the state, we must collaborate.”

But the USDP leaders said it was too early to announce which parts of the 2008 constitution were up for amendment. The NLD is also currently reviewing the constitution, and declined to comment as to which sections the party would wish to change. But the party did say it was reviewing sections of the constitution relating to running for president, passing legislation, the military’s role in politics and announcing states of emergency.

Win Myint, an NLD MP from Pathein Township, said despite being a minority party, the NLD would try to push for significant amendments.

“If we are building democratic country we must debate all ideas. It is public opinion whether it becomes law or not,” Win Myint said. “But we will try hard as far as we can.

“All will have to co-operate to change the law,” he went on. “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in a press conference on May 10…that she will cooperate with the USDP in the process of amending the constitution before 2015.”