Last Updated: Friday, 09 December 2016, 15:34 GMT

Myanmar's president says unrest should be avoided ahead of polls

Publisher Radio Free Asia
Publication Date 16 May 2014
Cite as Radio Free Asia, Myanmar's president says unrest should be avoided ahead of polls, 16 May 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5391ba13d.html [accessed 9 December 2016]
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2014-05-16

Thein Sein arrives for the opening ceremony of the 24th ASEAN summit in Naypyidaw, May 11, 2014.Thein Sein arrives for the opening ceremony of the 24th ASEAN summit in Naypyidaw, May 11, 2014. AFP

Myanmar President Thein Sein said Friday that the country should avoid any unrest ahead of next year's general elections and as parliament considers proposals to amend the country's military-drafted constitution.

Thein Sein said that his government would handle the two issues according to law and without influence from external pressure.

"The amendment of the constitution and the holding of free and fair elections are domestic issues which will be carried out within a legal framework and without tarnishing national sovereignty," he said at a ceremony to promote literacy in Myanmar's second city, Mandalay.

"Unrest won't do any good to the country, as only the country and the people will suffer."

Myanmar's 2015 elections will mark the first since Thein Sein's quasi-civilian administration took power from the former junta following 2010 polls that were seen as unfair.

A parliamentary committee is currently reviewing recommendations to amend the 2008 constitution which guarantees the military 25 percent of the seats in the legislature, and which opposition parties, led by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), have decried as undemocratic in public rallies.

Thein Sein called for national stability and asked for public support for his efforts to unite the country and introduce reforms, adding that difficulties and challenges are common for young democracies like Myanmar.

The president's visit to Mandalay came days ahead of a public meeting on constitutional reform in the city organized by the NLD and the pro-democracy 88 Generation student group. The Sunday meeting will feature Aung San Suu Kyi discussing the need for amending the charter.

The Irrawaddy online journal said that local NLD supporters had characterized Thein Sein's efforts to link literacy to democracy-building as a cynical exercise to win praise for the current government and undermine the campaign for significant changes to the constitution.

"His trip before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's visit is not honest as he is airing propaganda speech regarding the amendment of the constitution," local resident Mya Aung told the Irrawaddy.

"The same thing happened in 2012 before the by-elections, where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also planned to come to Mandalay."

Upcoming by-elections

The chairman of Myanmar's Election Commission (EC), which oversees the country's polls, announced Thursday that the country would hold a series of by-elections sometime between late November and early December to fill 30 vacant seats in parliament.

The 30 vacant parliamentary seats comprise 13 with the House of Representatives (Lower House), six with the House of Nationalities (Upper House) and 11 with Regional or State Parliament.

In by-elections in 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi helped the NLD bag 43 of the 44 seats it contested, handing the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party a humiliating defeat only two years after it had swept national polls.

Aung San Suu Kyi hopes to make a bid to become president in the 2015 elections, but a clause in the constitution currently bars her from doing so because her sons are foreign citizens.

Government leaders have been dragging their feet on efforts to amend the charter.

Reported by RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Link to original story on RFA website

Copyright notice: Copyright © 2006, RFA. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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