Suu Kyi MPs may refuse Myanmar seats over oath row

MPs say they will not pledge support to a constitution that is designed to perpetuate military power.

Written by Associated Press | Yangon | Published:April 20, 2012 5:03 pm

Elected lawmakers from the opposition party of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi may refuse to take the oath of office when Myanmar’s parliament opens Monday,saying they will not pledge support to a constitution they say is designed to perpetuate military power.

The dispute poses an unexpected hitch in Myanmar’s political reconciliation process that began last year with liberalizing reforms made by military-backed President Thein Sein that succeeded in luring Suu Kyi’s party back into electoral politics.

National League for Democracy party spokesman Nyan Win said Friday that a final decision had not yet been made on whether the party’s MPs would go to the capital Naypyitaw to attend the upcoming session of parliament.

However,efforts to change the oath or get a court to give a satisfactory interpretation of its meaning had so far failed,he said.

The party objects to wording that says lawmakers have to “protect and safeguard” the constitution. The party’s position is that some clauses in the constitution are undemocratic and should be changed.

The NLD won 43 of the 44 seats it contested in by-election held on April 1 this year,include one won by Suu Kyi herself. The results would make it the biggest opposition party in the military-dominated legislature,and give Suu Kyi,a Nobel Peace laureate and former political prisoner,a voice in public service for the first time. The NLD had boycotted a 2010 general election staged by the previous military government,protesting that it was undemocratic.

Nyan Win presented the oath problem as a legal one,saying his party was standing on principle. He said the wording of Myanmar’s party registration law was changed last year from “safeguard the constitution” to “respect and abide the constitution,” so the change should be effected in other relevant laws.

He said the party was trying to avoid making the dispute a political one. “We will try and find the solution,” he said. “This issue will be resolved one day.”

Nyan Win said the NLD will send letters about the matter to the president’s office,parliament and the Constitutional Tribunal,but there may not be enough time to resolve the issue before parliament reopens.

He said he met the chairman of the Constitutional Tribunal in Naypyitaw Thursday and received an explanation of the wording of the oath,but the NLD did not agree with some of it. He did not elaborate.

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