Constitution "error" could prevent amendments

Apr 11, 2008 (DVB), A clause in the Burmese junta's draft constitution requiring the agreement of all voters for any amendments to be made has been blamed on a typographical error by officials.

An earlier outline of the constitution stated that changes to the constitution would need the support of 75 percent of parliament and more than half of all voters, already making change unlikely without the approval of the military, who are guaranteed 25 percent of parliamentary seats under the charter.

The new wording, which states that any amendments would need the approval of all eligible voters, effectively rule out any future changes to the constitution.

Regime officials have blamed a typographical error for the wording of the clause and claim it will be corrected in the final draft.

But opposition groups have questioned whether the government intentionally included the controversial clause.

NLD special information officer U Thein Nyunt said it was surprising there could be such a major error.

"It is very surprising that there is such a serious error in such a vital paragraph of the draft constitution, which is a very important thing for the country," he said.

"Actually there should be no mistakes in it, only changes that have been made deliberately."

Thein Nyunt also criticised the government for not making the text of the draft constitution more accessible to the people of Burma.

"When Thailand held its election, their government distributed the constitution text books free of charge to every household and let Thai citizens and the media discuss it freely," he said.

"But in Burma, our country is selling the books for 1000 kyat which is unaffordable for an average Burmese family."

The book containing the text of the draft constitution is now available at book stands but it is still unclear whether the supposed error has been corrected in the copies that have been on sale since yesterday.

The Burmese public will vote on the draft constitution in a referendum planned for 10 May.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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