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One year after his promotion to the highest rank in Burma’s military, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing addressed the nation at a celebration marking Armed Forces Day, 27 March.
The Snr-Gen emphasised that the military has played a significant and necessary role in the country’s history.
“Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] had to take care of our country in the dangerous conditions in 1962 and 1988,” he said. “The soldiers could help with state food security and this would be a good support for the safety of the economy, and if there is a need to improve national productivity.”
Whereas his inaugural speech last year focused on the military’s commitment to reform, the commander on Thursday affirmed the importance of the military in the reform process and defended Burma’s 2008 Constitution.
According to state media, the Senior-General specifically endorsed clauses regarding amending the document, which have been a priority target for supporters of constitutional reform.
Chapter 12 of the charter requires 75 percent parliamentary approval for amendments.
Other contentious elements of the army-drafted Constitution are a clause reserving 25 percent of parliamentary seats for uniformed military representatives and an additional requirement of majority referendum for certain specified amendments.
Among the changes that require referendum is Article 59(f), which precludes a presidential bid by any Burmese citizen married to or parent of persons holding foreign citizenship, a clause which notably applies to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi attended the celebrations in the nation’s capital Naypyidaw on Thursday for the second time in history.
The event, which marks Burma’s resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945, was originally observed as “Resistance Day”, later to be renamed after Ne Win took power in the military coup of 1962.