Military rejects NLD bid to strip generals of their constitutional veto power

Naypyidaw– Military MPs on Friday blocked a bid by the government to strip them of their constitutional veto power as voting on dozens of changes to the charter entered its fourth day.

The military has blocked every major reform aimed at reducing its political power put forward by an NLD-led committee.

The party’s MPs, who dominate parliament, voted Friday to amend articles 436a and 436b, which say that any changes to the military-drafted charter must be approved by over three quarters of MPs.

The unelected military lawmakers who make up a quarter of all seats voted, as expected, against relinquishing their own power.

The amendment proposed changing the sections so that a yes vote from over two thirds of elected MPs, excluding the military MPs, would be enough to change the constitution.

Just over 63% of MPs voted for the amendments on Friday.

The NLD has 59% of the seats in Union Parliament, while ethnic parties and the Union Solidarity and Development Party hold 11% and 5% respectively.

Friday’s proposal would have given the NLD total control over the constitution, since the party has over 76% of elected seats.

The 2008 charter is widely considered undemocratic, and the ruling National League for Democracy won a 2015 election landslide pledging to reform it.

Voting on 135 proposed changes started Tuesday, marking the last phase of a year-long process that was doomed to fail but which the NLD sees as necessary given its 2015 election pledge.

Earlier this week the military blocked a bid to change section 59f so that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi can become president, as well as a change that would have stripped the military chief of the right to take charge of the country in a state of emergency.

None of the key proposals have gotten more than 64% of parliamentary votes so far.

But two amendments did pass with the support of the military. They both changed language referencing people with disabilities.

MPs will resume voting on the remaining 80 proposals on Monday and finish on March 20.

Writing by Tin Htet Paing

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