USDP vows to block any charter changes on 59(f)


NAY PYI TAW — The Union Solidarity and Development Party says it will stand firm in its opposition to a constitutional clause widely seen as a tool to prevent State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from assuming the presidency.

 “This law should not be amended, is my opinion,” said U Hla Thein, a member of the party’s central executive committee, during a Thursday press conference at the USDP’s Nay Pyi Taw headquarters.

Section 59(f) of the constitution, drafted by Myanmar’s former military junta and adopted in 2008, prevents Myanmar citizens with immediate family members holding foreign citizenship from contesting the presidency. Aung San Suu Kyi’s two sons are British citizens.

The National League for Democracy led a petition campaign to amend the constitution in 2014 to seek the repeal of the clause and a revision of Section 436 of the charter, which mandates that constitutional amendments must have the support of more than 75 percent of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw lawmakers.

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As the constitution also sets aside one quarter of all parliamentary seats for serving Tatmadaw officers, the latter clause grants the military an effective veto on amendments.

With the support of former USDP chairman U Shwe Mann, then the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw speaker, the NLD attempted to pass amendments to both clauses in June 2015 while in opposition.

The move was voted down by the military bloc, and was one of the principal reasons for the ouster of Shwe Mann and his supporters from their USDP leadership positions later that year.

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