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AFP
February 28, 2019

Hundreds rally in Myanmar to call for constitution reform

World

AFP
February 28, 2019

YANGON: Hundreds gathered Wednesday in downtown Yangon for a rally urging reform of Myanmar’s controversial constitution gifting the army sweeping powers, a move Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government will discuss ahead of 2020 elections.

The event follows the formation of a committee last week to discuss amending the military-scripted constitution, an unprecedented move as debates over it are highly sensitive. Authored by the junta in 2008, the charter allows the military control over security ministries, and gifts them with a quarter of parliamentary seats — effectively allowing them to veto any constitutional change proposed. The committee’s formation — voted in by a parliament dominated by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party (NLD) — pits her in open opposition against the powerful army, with which she has been in an uneasy power-sharing agreement since the 2015 elections. Wednesday’s rally, featuring a band and speeches from pro-reform activists, drew hundreds to the iconic Sule Pagoda sporting red headbands — NLD’s signature colours — and T-shirts saying “#WeWantChanges”. “We cannot accept the constitution as it was not written by the representatives of the people,” Mya Aye, a prominent pro-democracy leader, told the crowd. The intent of the charter was clear to attendants, as it also bans anyone married to a foreigner from becoming president — a clause analysts believe was aimed at Suu Kyi, whose late husband was British.

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