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Burma’s union parliament unanimously approved a proposal on Wednesday allowing for the formation a committee to review the military-backed 2008 constitution.
The emergency proposal was tabled by the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)’s lower house representative and former general Thura Aye Myint last week. It was approved by the lower house on Friday and passed on to the union parliament.
Parliament’s Peace Making Committee chairperson and fellow Lower House USDP representative Thein Zaw said sections of the constitution should be amended to promote ethnic unity during a debate in parliament yesterday.
With the parliament’s sixth session ending tomorrow, Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann said MPs would be able to submit their suggestions for the potential committee members before 25 June.
Shan Nationalities Democratic Party’s Lower House representative Ye Htun said constitutional amendments should focus on providing Burma’s ethnic minorities with equal rights and grant more legislative power to regional governments.
“For ethnic unity, [there needs to be] equal rights for ethnic minorities in the country and more legislative power should be granted to [administrative regions], which will also allow for more administrative [control] in regional governments,” said Ye Htun.
“There is no constitution that is agreed by 100 percent of the population – I don’t think the 92% approval of the 2008 constitution referendum was a correct figure that reflected the real situation.”
The 2008 legislation was drafted by the former military junta and formally approved during a rigged referendum, which was conducted after Burma was struck by Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 130,000 people.
The constitution contains several controversial provisions, including a mandate that preserves 25 percent of the parliamentary seats for the military.
The constitution also prohibits anyone with “foreign” familial ties from leading the country, which effectively prevents opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president in 2015.