Long-stalled impeachment bill set to return to parliament

By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — A new version of the Right to Recall bill has been drafted by the Union Election Commission and is ready to be submitted to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, parliament heard Monday.

Commission member U Aung Myint told the Pyithu Hluttaw that the UEC expected the bill would be considered by parliament without a lengthy discussion, as previous drafts had been extensively debated during the previous term.

“The bill has already been drawn, this law is especially concerned with MPs and we are expecting this time to discuss without many issues like the last Hluttaw,” he said.

Aung Myint was responding to a question by U Thaung Aye (USDP, Pyawbwe), who had earlier asked the parliament to pass a bill that formalised the framework for the removal of sitting lawmakers.

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Thaung Aye said that the public had noticed the bill had not been enacted, five years after it was first brought before the parliament.

According to Article 396 of Myanmar’s constitution, MPs can be ejected from office for the offenses of high treason, breach of the Constitution, misbehaviour or inefficient discharge of duties.

The impeachment process outlined in the constitution requires the signed assent of one percent of a lawmaker’s constituents, along with a UEC investigation to determine the lawmaker’s guilt.

Earlier versions of the Right to Recall bill were submitted to parliament in 2012 and 2013, but the draft law lapsed with the end of the last parliamentary term.

Following an August 2015 factional battle between then-President U Thein Sein and former Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker U Shwe Mann, during which the latter was removed from his post as chair of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, members of the USDP loyal to Thein Sein attempted to have parliament reconsider the impeachment bill.

The month before, Shwe Mann was the target of a petition campaign in his former constituency of Zayarthiri, calling for his impeachment for allowing a parliamentary vote that would have watered down the military’s effective veto over constitutional amendments.

Parliament ultimately voted down the impeachment bill over concerns the threshold for public complaints was too low, with National League for Democracy lawmakers and a majority of USDP MPs signalling their opposition in the Pyithu Hluttaw.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said at the time the bill was “ridiculous” and should be amended to raise the threshold to 20 percent of an MP’s constituents.

Thaung Aye noted Monday that the Right to Recall bill was not included in the list of 142 laws set for consideration by the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, a law reform body established by the new NLD government and chaired by Shwe Mann.

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