The position held by the Tatmadaw under the 2008 Constitution was tantamount to violating Buddhist principles, the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, said in Mandalay on May 18.

“The abuse of power that belongs in the possession of the people is effectively committing adinnadana: the taking of something that has not been given,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in an address to more than 100,000 people at a rally in support of constitutional reform held jointly by the NLD and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society group.

She quoted her father, General Aung San, as saying it was not the duty of the Tatmadaw to rule the people, and added that she believed it was the Tatmadaw’s duty to defend the country “not to choose the president”.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi referred to Article 436 of the constitution, which provides for 25 percent of hluttaw members to be appointed members of the military, giving them an effective veto over charter change, which requires the support of more than 75 percent of the Union parliament.

Repeating a call made at a rally in Yangon the previous day, the NLD leader urged Tatmadaw MPs to support the campaign for constitutional amendments.

“I want to challenge them, if they do not crave power then they should be bold enough to face the reality of the situation and act in the best interests of the country,” she said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi appealed to the youth of the nation who support constitutional change to write to Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing so that he understands the strength of their feeling on the issue.

“I have no money, no weapons, nor a constitution to rely on;  I have only the people to rely on,” she said.

The Mandalay rally was also addressed by a leading member of the 88 Generation group, Ko Min Ko Naing, who described the 2008 Constitution as “only a green book, drafted by bullies”.

It was up to the people to determine if the constitution was amended, Ko Min Ko Naing said.

“If you don’t want a book, you can tear it to pieces. This won’t happen by itself and we must act when the time is right,” he said.

Referring to the uprising in 1988, Ko Min Ko Naing said: “When the people’s will was strong enough, you toppled three presidents within days; this is not a legend.”