Constitutional reform campaign builds steam

88 Generation speakers urge charter reform at a stage in Monywa, Sagaing Division, on 10 June 2014. (PHOTO: DVB)
The campaign for constitutional reform continued on Tuesday as activist group 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) joined the National League for Democracy (NLD) in central and southeastern Burma, greeted by crowds in the thousands.

Myint Naing, central executive committee member of the NLD’s regional branch in Sagaing Division, said more than 10,000 people joined the 10 June rally in Monywa, where the party’s central committee member Tun Tun Hein, district executive Thida Win, and renowned activist Ko Ko Gyi of 88GPOS delivered speeches in support of amending Article 436 of Burma’s 2008 Constitution.

“The event, hosted at a privately-owned field in Monywa, began at around 8am in the morning with a sea of people spread out across the field,” said Myint Naing. “The speakers lectured the public on the history of the 2008 Constitution – how it centralises veto power, granting control to just one group.”

Speaking at the rally, Ko Ko Gyi said that Article 436 – which effectively grants the military veto power over any other constitutional change – remains one of the toughest obstacles to achieving a truly democratic government in Burma.

“Article 436 is like the gate to a compound; unless that gate is opened, we will never be able to open any of the doors or windows to our house,” he said.

A similar event was held in Tenasserim Division’s Myeik [Mergui], also on Tuesday, with speeches from Min Ko Naing of 88GPOS and NLD central committee members U Htay, Sein Nyunt, Htin Linn Oo and regional youth coordinator Okkar Min.

“We will continue to raise awareness among the public about the shortcomings of the Constitution, and as Min Ko Naing said, to call for laws that protect the people,” said Htin Linn Oo.

Amendment of Article 436 could allow the possibility of amending Article 59(f), a clause that prevents Burmese citizens with foreign relatives from running for the presidency. Presently, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was married to a British man and has two children, is effectively banned from running for president in the November 2015 general elections.

The NLD and 88GPOS teamed up for a nationwide campaign for charter reforms on 17 May in Rangoon, and have since been touring across the country. The next rally is planned for Kawthaung, Tenasserim Division, on 14 June.

By NAW NOREEN (DVB)

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