Myanmar president approves country’s constitution referendum plan

Myanmar president approves country’s constitution referendum plan

[JURIST] Myanmar lawmakers on Wednesday said that the country’s president has approved a law allowing a referendum on amendments to its constitution later this year. The referendum may include up to 95 proposed constitutional revisions and is tentatively scheduled [Global Times report] for May 2015, before a general election in October or November. The approval [Reuters report] of the referendum plan by President Thein Sein [JURIST news archive] late Tuesday will allow the Electoral Commission to move forward with setting a date for the vote. The country’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party has pushed for changes to the military drafted constitution, arguing that it grants too much power to the military.

Reform [BBC timeline] in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] has happened slowly in the four years since the dissolution [BBC report] of the nation’s military government and transition to a civilian regime in 2011. Earlier this month Myanmar’s legislature, the Assembly of the Union, passed [JURIST report] a new law granting temporary citizens the right to vote in the constitutional referendum. In November Myanmar’s parliament announced that it will consider amending the country’s 2008 constitution [text] following talks between Thein Sein and top army officials and opposition leadership. In July a provincial court in Myanmar sentenced four journalists [JURIST report] and the chief executive from the Unity Journal to a 10-year prison sentence and hard labor for publishing a story in January in violation of the national State Secrets Act, a British colonial law dating back to the 1920s. In February of last year Fortify Rights, an independent human rights group based in Southeast Asia, issued a 79-page report claiming evidence the Myanmar government ordered policy discrimination against Rohingya Muslims [JURIST report].