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Myanmar army opposes constitutional change on presidency

Myanmar army soldiers hold a guard of honor during a ceremony at the Martyrs' Mausoleum in the city of Yangon, July 19, 2012.

Myanmar’s army has voiced its opposition to the potential amendment of the constitution that would allow opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president.

Myanmar’s military representatives told MPs during a debate in the parliament on Monday that the army would reject amending the constitutional charter that bans Suu Kyi from high political office.

“I would like you all to remember that the constitution is not written for just one person but for the future of everyone,” Colonel Htay Naing said during the debate, which was televised on Tuesday.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest during the military rule in Myanmar, has announced her intention to run for president. The National League for Democracy (NLD) leader is predicted to post big gains at the election scheduled for October or November next year if she is allowed to run.

Since Suu Kyi’s two sons and late husband are British, she is effectively excluded as a presidential contender under Clause 59F of the constitution.

It would be “concerning if the children of our country’s president were foreign citizens,” Htay Naing said.

Members of parliament have begun a debate on whether to amend the 2008 constitution, including Clause 59F, and the rule reserving 25 percent of seats for the military.

A “yes” vote by more than 75 percent of the lawmakers in Myanmar is needed to change the constitution.

Myanmar’s constitution was drawn up by the former ruling generals. There has recently been growing concern that reforms, which began under President Thein Sein, have come to a halt.

Meanwhile, the NLD party has gained around five million signatures, or 10 percent of the population, on a petition to end the army’s right of veto on amending the constitution.



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