Fri 13 Jun 2014
Filed under: DASSK,Ethnic Issues,Human Rights,Inside Burma,News
The organiser of a protest in Rakhine State opposing constitutional change said it was arranged because many people there do not want opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to become president.
“Amending the constitution only means making way for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to become president,” U Aung Than Nu told Mizzima on June 12 after an estimated 800 protesters marched through the state capital, Sittway, before attending a rally at the city’s Paya Gyi Pagoda at 2pm.
“If she became president, it would not be good for Rakhine State,” U Aung Than Nu, who is also known by the pen name, Arakan Muang Hla, said in a telephone interview.
He said many people in Rakhine believed the National League for Democracy leader held biased views about communal conflict in the state.
The protesters demanded that no change be made to Section 59(f) of the constitution, which bars Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president because family members are foreign citizens.
They also demanded that no change be made to Section 436 of the constitution, which stipulates that an amendment needs the support of more than 75 percent of the Union parliament, giving its unelected military MPs an effective veto over charter change because they hold 25 percent of hluttaw seats.
Rakhine National Party central executive member U Khine Pyi Soe said the protest did not represent the views of most of the community.
“I think the protest was conducted because of one’s person wish,” he told Mizzima from Sittway on June 12.
U Win Myint, a member of the NLD central executive committee as well as a parliamentary committee formed to consider constitutional amendments, said changes to the charter would not only provide for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to be eligible to contest the presidency.
U Win Myint, who represents Pathein in the Pyithu Hluttaw for the NLD, said the campaign for constitutional change was aimed at creating a real democracy and was in the interests of the entire nation, rather than any race or religion.
The NLD and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society group began collecting signatures for a petition to call for the amendment of Article 436 on May 27.
A member of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, Ko Ant Bwe Kyaw, said Article 436 would have to be amended before there could be amendments to other provisions of the constitution.
Ko Ant Bwe Kyaw said he did not want to comment on the demonstration in Sittway because the protesters had a democratic right to express an opinion.