Myanmar draft constitution entrenches military, blocks Suu Kyi: report

Myanmar draft constitution entrenches military, blocks Suu Kyi: report

[JURIST] The draft constitution [JURIST news archive] of Myanmar [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], slated to be put before the country's citizens in a May referendum, contains a provision reserving 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military, and another provision that will effectively prevent pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from seeking the presidency or a seat in parliament due to her foreign husband, according to AP, which reported Monday that it had obtained a copy of the secret document. The draft constitution also provides a mechanism by which the president may cede legislative, executive, and judicial functions to the military for up to one year in the event of a state of emergency. It further requires that any constitutional amendments must receive support from at least 75 percent of parliament, which effectively guarantees that the military will have veto power over any unwelcome amendments.

The Myanmar constitution-drafting process has come under fire [JURIST report] from critics who have urged citizens to reject the proposed referendum, saying it is a "sham" to legalize military rule. Other opponents, including supporters of Suu Kyi, have stopped just short of calling for a boycott. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been governed without a constitution since the military regime took power in 1988 and talks on a new national charter [JURIST report] have been underway for 14 years. AP has more.