2008 Charter: The Military's Version of Democracy

By The Irrawaddy 10 May 2018

One decade ago today, Myanmar’s then-ruling military government held a referendum on whether to ratify a Constitution that not only political observers but also many ordinary citizens saw as a thinly veiled rubber stamp for the military’s continued involvement in the country’s politics. Led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and in collaboration with civil society organizations, the National League for Democracy has declared its intention to amend the charter, which it claims is undemocratic — but so far its efforts have been in vain. On the 10th anniversary of the referendum, we post here a collection of opinion pieces from The Irrawaddy — some dating back to 2008 — relating to the Constitution, the possible options for amending it, and the ways in which it limits democracy in Myanmar, among other topics.

Constitutional Conundrum

As analysts and activists debate how to respond to the regime’s draft constitution, others ask if it will cement the generals’ hold on power or trigger a popular uprising

Constitutional Power in the Hands of Commander in Chief 

Nudging the Junta toward Democracy 

What can the international community and the opposition do to ensure that next year’s election puts Burma on the road to genuine political reform?

Suu Kyi Needs a Band of ‘Bold Soldiers’

The democracy icon says she wants to be president, but to get there, she’ll need some help from a tough crowd: military-appointed members of Parliament.

A Tip for Dealing With Burma’s Government

As the reform process loses momentum, foreign diplomats and donors should not be fooled by political manipulation or the progress of three years ago.

Time for Constitutional Change

President Thein Sein has not shown any indication that he is serious about amendments, but the clock is ticking and we’re tired of waiting.

Walking the Walk on Constitutional Change in Myanmar 

Whatever form the dialogue on constitutional change takes, what’s most important is that the discussion is substantive and its participants approach the matter genuinely.

Burma’s Democracy: Just What the Generals Ordered

The international community must press the Burmese government to go further in its top-down reform program.

Zipporah Sein: ‘We Don’t Accept the Constitution’ 

The Irrawaddy speaks with Zipporah Sein, vice chairperson of the Karen National Union and leader of a newly formed ethnic negotiating bloc.

Take Care With Constitutional Reform

Constitutional change is crucial, and we should be careful that any attempt to achieve it is not counter-productive.

Myanmar’s Constitutional Collision Course

Burma’s generals got the Constitution they wanted, hence the NLD’s victory is unlikely to affect the country’s power structure with the military at its apex.

Dateline Irrawaddy: ‘The Constitution Has Made Two Lions Live Together in a Cave’ 

With the National League for Democracy hitting its 40th day in office this week, Irrawaddy Dateline examines what challenges and opportunities remain for the party.

A Tale of 3 Constitutions 

Myanmar has had three constitutions since securing its independence in 1948. Here is a brief history of each.

NLD ‘Waiting for the Right Time’ to Amend Constitution

Party laying the groundwork for reform, remains committed to charter change, spokesman says.

Democratic Transition Requires a Democratic Constitution, Suu Kyi Says

State Counselor tells international audience in Singapore her government has made progress on Rakhine and the peace process, says Myanmar has ‘bright economic future’