Myanmar: Parliament to Vote Next Week on Changes to Military’s Charter.

Photo : Nyan Hlaing Lin / Myanmar Now

Lawmakers will vote on dozens of amendments to Myanmar’s military-drafted constitution next week, parliamentary speaker T Khun Myat said, in a key moment for the NLD’s bid to wrest power from the generals.

Military MPs have been sparring with their elected counterparts in a heated series of debates over the proposed changes in the past two weeks.

There are two bills before the Hluttaw containing 135 proposed changes to the 2008 charter, which was written to entrench the military’s role in political life and forced through in a sham referendum.

The NLD wants to change the charter to gradually eliminate military-appointed MPs and to allow their leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be president – she is barred because of a clause that says those with foreign relatives cannot take on the role.

In order for any of the changes to pass, they’ll need the support of every single elected MP- three quarters of both houses – and at least some of the military’s unelected MPs.

Voting will start on Tuesday March 10, and there will be a total of nine votes covering all of the 135 proposed amendments, T Khun Myat said.

The speaker did not reveal which amendments would be grouped together and did not say when voting would end.

Fifty-five of the amendments can pass in a simple vote with more than 75% of MPs supporting them. There will be five votes on these proposed changes.

The other 80 changes would need the same number of MPs and would then have to win the support of voters in a public referendum in order to go into effect. These amendments have been grouped into four votes.

Lawmakers will cast their votes secretly, the speaker added.

“Any results that come out in line with the law shall not be disputed,” he told parliament on Tuesday.

Each party will appoint monitors for the vote. The NLD will have eight while the USDP and the military will have five each, with ethnic parties appointing another 14.

It is impossible for the NLD to get any changes through without military support.

There are 664 seats in Myanmar’s parliament, including 166 military MPs. But because a dozen of the elected seats are vacant, non-military MPs make up slightly less than 75% of all lawmakers.