As Aung San Suu Kyi continues her drive for constitutional amendment, the Union Election Commission [UEC] has warned the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader to abide by the Political Parties Registration Law as well as Burma’s 2008 Constitution.
On 18 May, Suu Kyi addressed a crowd of thousands at a rally for charter reform in Mandalay. “I would like to urge the Tatmadaw [Burmese Army] representatives in parliament to prove that they are in politics not because they crave power – actually when I say ‘urge’ in a way I mean ‘challenge’. I challenge them,” the Burmese opposition leader told the crowd.
A letter sent to Suu Kyi by the UEC on 22May cited the remarks and reminded her that in submitting the NLD’s party registration to the UEC, she, as party founder, had signed a mandatory agreement to abide by Article-6 of the Political Parties Registration Law. That article requires registered political parties to “safeguard the constitution”.
The UEC warned Suu Kyi that she had also sworn to uphold the constitution as she was elected to parliament in a 2012 by-election.
“The remarks [by Suu Kyi] towards the Tatmadaw representatives in parliament, who were appointed in conformity with the Constitution, are out of the line provided by the constitution,” the UEC letter reads.
The UEC noted that if Suu Kyi wanted to see an amendment to the Constitution, she could follow the proper procedure by proposing a bill to parliament.
Win Myint, NLD Central Executive Committee member, insisted Suu Kyi’s remarks did not breach the Political Parties Registration Law or the constitution.
“We’ve consulted legal experts for the [charter reform campaign] and are undertaking change within the legal boundaries, in a manner ensuring tranquillity and peace in the country. We are not taking crowds to the streets,” said Win Myint.
“Our rallies are conducted in conformity with existing laws, we submit the names of speakers [at rallies] for which we seek permission to host at designated locations. As we believe we are acting within the law, we will continue with our original plan.”
While the UEC statement did not specify that any immediate action would be taken against the NLD, it cautioned that the commission may act on their mandate to “direct” them to follow necessary procedures.
The UEC pointed out that the parliamentary Joint-Committee to Review the Constitution is reviewing the amendment process. The legislative body has also formed a Committee to Implement Constitutional Amendments, all in conformity with the 2008 national charter.
The NLD has partnered with the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society in their nationwide campaign for constitutional reform. Rallies were held this month in Rangoon, Mandalay and Henzada. The NLD has indicated that more rallies are to follow.