Tue 6 Jul 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Burma’s National Convention, tasked with drafting a new constitution, will shut down for a month starting July 10, said a spokesman for the New Mon State Party, or NMSP.
“I heard that the Convention will take a break for about two months and during that time delegates will return their headquarters,” said Aung Shein, who spoke by telephone from Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand. “But I don’t know why it should take that long.”
Burmese opposition figures contacted by The Irrawaddy speculated that the intermission might be related to recent problems between the National Convention Committee and ethnic ceasefire groups.
On June 9, thirteen ethnic-ceasefire groups attending the meeting presented a joint proposal paper to the National Conventional Committee. The paper included a recommendation that in addition to legislative authority in the Union Parliament, that there should be legislative authority in the state assemblies, which would entail some power-sharing and the right to form assembly-controlled armed forces.
The National Convention Committee last Friday dismissed the groups’ demand and urged the amendment of the proposal paper in accordance with the six objectives and 104 tentative articles of the constitutional blueprint tabled by the government.
The ceasefire groups agreed to leave the paper out of the plenary session agenda of the convention. But Aung Shein said that the NMSP had not yet received any official letter from the authorities regarding the issue.
Representatives of 17 former ethnic insurgent groups, which each signed separate ceasefire agreements with Rangoon during the late 1980s and the 1990s, are attending the convention that began on May 17. The government declared the meeting’s launch a success as 1076 of the 1088 invited
delegates turned up.
The main opposition National League for Democracy, or NLD, and Burma’s second biggest party, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, or SNLD, decided not to attend the National Convention because the government refused to amend the objectives and tentative articles of its proposed
constitutional blueprint, which guarantees the military a major role in any future administration.