Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has laid to rest reports it may boycott the next general election, saying that it will definitely contest the polls in 2015.
Speaking at a press conference to conclude a Central Committee meeting in Rangoon on Saturday, NLD spokesman Nyan Win said that party leader Aung San Suu Kyi did not previously intend to indicate that the NLD would not participate in the elections if constitutional amendments were not enacted.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did not mean the party will not compete in the 2015 elections – she was only talking about an idea,” he said. “In principal, it would not be ideal to compete in the elections without amending the constitution. To be precise, the NLD is definitely going to run in the 2015 elections – that decision was not made at today’s meeting; we made it much earlier. Now we are reiterating that we will definitely take part in the elections.”
The NLD spokesman also announced on Saturday that the party was recommending 168 amendments to the constitution in a letter to the parliamentary Joint-Committee for Amending the Constitution.
Central Executive Committee member Win Myint said, “There are 168 clauses we are looking to amend in 14 chapters of the constitution; nine amendments to the Chapter 1 (Basic Principles of the Union); 23 in Chapter 3 (Head of State); 18 in Chapter 4 (Legislature); 54 in Chapter 5 (Executive); 32 in Chapter 6 (Judiciary); two in Chapter 7 (Defence Services); three in Chapter 8 (Citizenship, Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens); 10 in Chapter 9 (Elections); three in Chapter 10 (Political Parties); four in Chapter 11 (State of Emergency); two in Chapter 12 (Amendments to the Constitution); one in Chapter 13 (State Flag, State Seal, National Anthem and the Capital); six in Chapter 14 (Transitory Provisions); and one in Chapter 15 (General Provisions).”
Responding to a reporter’s question on whether he thought the 2015 elections would be free or fair, Nyan Win said, “We do have doubts about the fairness of the elections, but there might be some freedom. People will be allowed to vote freely but whether their votes are treated fairly is something we are concerned about.
“As at the [April 2013] by-elections, monitors and observers should be present and we should be able to collect data from them,” said Nyan Win.
“Since the formation of our [Constitution Amendment Committee], we have taken steps to ensure that ethnic-based political parties are included within our framework,” he continued. “The difference between amending and completely rewriting the constitution is that – when weighing up which would be more practical to implement – we see that procedures to amend the constitution are already provided in Chapter 12. We have therefore decided to choose this option since there is already a legal framework in place.”
He said there was still no response on a previous request by the party to sit with the President, parliamentary speakers and the military commander-in-chief to discuss amending the constitution.
Over the past few months the NLD has conducted public surveys across the country and declared that the majority of people they polled said they wished to see the constitution amended.