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Political big guns poised for constitutional debate

Burma’s President Thein Sein, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, house speakers Khin Aung Myint and Shwe Mann, and one representative of ethnic political parties will lock horns in Naypyidaw on Friday for a debate on constitutional reform.

The meeting was scheduled following the Union Parliament passing a motion on Tuesday calling for an emergency debate on constitutional reform.

The proposal was raised by Myint Tun from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and was approved without opposition.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament, Suu Kyi said, “I can’t refuse this [opportunity]. The previous meeting, with 14 persons, was unclear. This time, the parliamentary proposal is very detailed and there is no reason not to attend. Anyway, it is good that parliament passed it.”

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She confirmed to the assembled media that the sexpartite debate will be held in the capital on Friday, 28 November.

Upper house MP Aung Kyi Nyunt of Suu Kyi’s NLD party said, “The Union Parliament has made an important decision for the future of our country. It gives us hope. We welcome the decision.”

The NLD has campaigned for the best part of a year for constitutional reform, claiming that certain provisions in the 2008 charter are undemocratic. One clause – Article 59(f) – also prevents NLD chairperson Suu Kyi from seeking the presidency on the basis that her children have foreign citizenship, as had her deceased husband, Michael Aris, who was British.

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