Thura U Shwe Mann told a press conference last week that agreement had been reached on 80 percent of the amendment process in committee.

The speaker revealed that he had consulted with US Secretary of State John Kerry over the constitutional amendment process when the two met briefly in parliament on August 9.

“We talked about how important and fragile the constitutional process was, and I hoped the United States would support our democratisation,” said Thura U Shwe Mann.

A 31-member parliamentary committee has been reviewing proposed amendments to the 2008 constitution with a view to reporting to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw six months in advance of next year’s elections. According to its latest report, released on July 22, the committee has already discussed proposed revisions to section 340, which would bar Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency in the event of her party’s victory next year.

Committee secretary U Aye Mauk told the media agreement had been reached on the section, but he did not elaborate on the nature of the agreement. However, committee members who asked not to be named told The Myanmar Times that all except three members, all military, had agreed to lower the proportion of MPs required to change the provision from 75pc to two-thirds of MPs in Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.

“They [the three members] want to keep section 436(a), which requires more than 75pc of MPs to support an amendment for it to be approved. The military holds 25pc of all seats. But they said they would decide whether to agree or not when the amendment bill comes up before Pyidaungsu Hluttaw,” said a member of the committee.

Between May and July, the National League for Democracy and the 88 Generation Students campaigned around the country to gather signatures on a petition demanding the change. On August 14, they sent the petition, with 5 million signatures, to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.

However Thura U Shwe Mann has said the signature campaign would not affect the work of the constitutional amendment committee, though he added that the signatures could have an impact on the parliamentary debate on the amendments.