Defence Council bill delayed until NLD parliament

Defence Council bill delayed until NLD parliament

Progress on a controversial bill that some would give more power to the military chief than the president has been stalled until the next parliament convenes.

The National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) Bill has was discussed in parliament for nearly two years, before a draft was introduced to lawmakers by upper house MP Tin Mya in December 2015.

The bill faced criticism, with concern that some clauses would entitle the military commander-in-chief to more authority than the president, based on a reduction of the president’s decision-making powers within the NDSC.

Under the existing 2008 Constitution, an 11 member council was assembled to develop and vote on policy concerning security and military matters. The military is already entitled to six members – the majority vote.

The council is made up of the president and vice-presidents, the commander-in-chief and his deputy, house speakers, and the ministers for defence, foreign affairs, home affairs, and border affairs.

By one proposed amendment, to article 14, the president would be stripped of his or her vote on council matters – unless in the event of a deadlocked vote.

On 5 January, upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint spoke to reporters at the conclusion of the upper house session: “The bill has not yet been formally proposed – as we wanted to thoroughly consider what necessary protocols can be included in the bill,” he said.

“The National Defence and Security Council is a high-level institution and we considered that there should be a bill on such an institution. However, as we lacked experience we waited to work out what could be included in the Bill. It’s been two years and we haven’t progressed yet,” he said.

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He added that time had run for the the current legislature to propose the bill, as only 19 days remain in parliamentary term.

Discussion of the Bill will now fall to the National League for Democracy-led upper house, which will convene at the beginning of April.

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