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Representatives of Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), together with leading members of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS), on Wednesday took their constitutional reform campaign to Karen State capital Hpa-an where they addressed a crowd of several hundred.
88GPOS leader Min Ko Naing and prominent NLD lawyer Aung Thein spoke at a public meeting in Hpa-an’s Kanthar-Oo Hall where they urged the mostly ethnic Karen audience to sign a petition calling for the amendment of constitutional Article 436, the clause that effectively blocks any attempt to change the 2008-drafted charter without support from military representatives in parliament.
Nan Khin Htwe Myint, an NLD central committee member who was at the event, told DVB that Min Ko Naing stressed that efforts to amend the Constitution should be implemented concurrently with agreements towards a peace process in Burma.
“Min Ko Naing said that amending the Constitution’s Article 436 without a peace agreement or vice versa was akin to hopping on one leg,” she said. “Only when we achieve both goals will we be able to walk properly.”
Nan Khin Htwe Myint said the organisers initially planned to include speeches by Karen community leaders, but those invited could not make it due to a shortage of time. However, she said, they should be able to participate at other Karen locations on the tour, such as Hlaing Bwe, Hpa-pon and Thandaung.
The petition campaign to amend Article 436 was launched nationwide by the NLD and 88GPOS earlier this week but has already been signed by a number of well-known leaders and celebrities, including Hkun Htun Oo from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and the Rakhine National Party’s Aye Thar Aung, as well as well-known singers, actors and actresses.
NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi has also urged government workers and servicemen within the Burmese army to sign the petition and support constitutional reform.