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Myanmar army blocks bid to reduce military power

March 11, 2020

The Burmese leader and her party are attempting to bring in more democratic reforms ahead of general elections later this year. The military, however, does not want to let go of power.

The facade of the Myanmar parliament complex
Image: Getty Images/AFP/R. Gacad

Myanmar's parliament on Tuesday voted against constitutional amendments that would phase out the influence of the military in politics by bringing in changes to the constitutional charter drafted by the military junta in 2008.

Amendments to the constitution need to be passed by more than two-thirds of the parliament. Notably, a quarter of the seats in the legislature are reserved for members of the military.

Read more: Aung San Suu Kyi in The Hague for Rohingya genocide showdown

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) had put forward amendments that would reduce the number of military MPs in the legislature over 15 years. The party also sought the removal of a section where the commander-in-chief of the defense services was given the title of the "supreme commander of all armed forces."

The legislature, however, did approve legislation that would allow civil servants to hold party affiliations. The parliament is expected to vote on other such amendments till March 20.

The plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar

Myanmar made a tumultuous transition from military junta to partial democracy over the past decade, which resulted in Suu Kyi coming into effective power in 2016. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has come under international pressure over the government's handling of Rohingya refugees in the country in recent years.

As the country looks at another general election later this year, the push for democratic reforms of the state machinery has intensified.

Suu Kyi currently serves as the State Counsellor of Myanmar, a position that was created so that she could be a part of the government. As her husband and children are British citizens, she cannot be the president of the country under its current constitution. The NLD hopes to change that situation with constitutional reform.

see/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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