The instability being caused by the ongoing public campaign to amend the Constitution will ultimately hurt the country, Burma’s President Thein Sein warned on Thursday.
Speaking at a literacy campaign in Mandalay, the president said, “Amending the constitution and holding free and fair elections are our internal affairs. We can perform them under national legislation without damaging our sovereignty. Nobody wants to endure the instability that these issues are causing. It will hurt the people … I would like to urge all people and monks who love this country to protect it from instability.”
The president’s words came ahead of a rally on Saturday organised by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Organization (88GPOS) to garner more public support for amending the Constitution.
The push for amendment has focused particularly on overturning Article 436 which dictates that any proposals to amend clauses of the 2008 Constitution must be approved by 75 percent of representatives in both houses of parliament. As the military holds 25 percent of all seats, it effectively holds veto power over the Constitution, the opposition groups say.
NLD Central Executive Committee member Win Mying responded to the president’s comment, saying that constitutional reform would not destabilize the country.
“We are not trying to create instability,” he told DVB on Friday. “The public want to hear about proposals for constitutional reform. We have the right to freely and peacefully express our views about amending the Constitution, and we are doing so in accordance with the law. It is unrelated to the stability of the country.”
The NLD and 88GPOS have scheduled rallies on Saturday, 17 May, in Rangoon, and on Sunday, 18 May, in Mandalay. Leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Min Ko Naing will speak on behalf of the respective parties. The NLD has meanwhile instructed its township offices to start collecting signatures of people who support amending the Constitution.