Military members of Burma’s lower house of parliament failed on Tuesday to block a bill that would give National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi a powerful new role as “state counselor”.
The bill, submitted to the upper house last Thursday, was approved by the lower house today by a vote of 137-68, despite protests from army-appointed MPs who occupy 25 percent of seats in parliament.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, army MP representative Brigadier General Maung Maung expressed disappointment with the outcome.
“When the bill was introduced in the lower house, we pledged to cooperate, to take some time to hash out amendments as necessary if it appeared to be in conformity with the constitution,” he said.
“However, it turned out that wasn’t the case. Just as we’ve been saying, it was democratic bullying by the majority and the Tatmadaw [armed forces] representatives decided to not take part in the voting.”
The bill, which aims to consolidate Suu Kyi’s control over the government, is expected to be signed into law by President Htin Kyaw, a Suu Kyi loyalist handpicked to act as her proxy.
Under Burma’s military-drafted 2008 Constitution, Suu Kyi is barred from assuming the presidency because her two sons are foreign nationals.
The charter also contains provisions that guarantee the armed forces a quarter of all seats in parliament and control over key ministries.