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Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday that the parliament’s majority failed to uphold the people’s hope for change after the legislative vote that retained contentious provisions of the country’s military-drafted Constitution.
A move to amend the Burmese Constitution to remove the military’s legislative veto on key decisions fell short of the required 75 percent support in parliament, preserving the armed forces’ powerful political role.
The result was no surprise given that a quarter of the seats in the house are appointed to the military, which ruled Burma for half a century until 2011.
The proposal aimed to trim the share of house votes needed to amend the constitution to 70 per cent.
Another vote on a clause that effectively bars Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president also failed.
The motion voted on would have only partially amended that article, however, meaning the 70-year-old democracy icon would still have been ineligible had it been passed.
“Those who did not vote for the change are destroying the people’s desire, which in a way, doesn’t value the people’s hope. For me, I assume that people don’t need to lose hope or be depressed. It is quite clear on how we have to continue and in what way,” said Suu Kyi in a news conference after the parliament session on Thursday.
Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) won the last free election by a landslide in 1990 – a result ignored by the junta – cannot become president because her two children are British citizens, as was her late husband.
The NLD suffered persecution under the former junta and says the military’s ability to shoot down changes to the Constitution puts a limit on democratic reforms in Burma, where a general election is expected in November.
Critics see it as an enshrined safeguard to protect the armed forces’ sizeable economic and political interests.
Suu Kyi said the outcome was of no surprise and it was “obvious” the military would not support amendments.
The vote, she said, showed the electorate which forces in politics were for or against progress in Burma.
“We [the NLD] do not need to step back from the election because of today’s result. Frankly speaking, I believe, people can know and decide clearly who they need to support as they already know who wants changes,” she added.
Military lawmakers gave a series of speeches during the debate, which began on Tuesday, defending the continued political role of the armed forces and arguing that Burma’s transition to democracy was still fragile and needed to be protected.
The NLD, which has a history of boycotting what it saw as flawed political processes inspired by the former military dictatorship, has yet to confirm whether or not it will run in the election.