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Myanmar Civil-Military Tensions Ahead Of Polls

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Myanmar’s civilian government seemed on a collision course with the powerful military ahead of the Parliament elections this month, after it rubbished criticism from the powerful military chief over preparations for weekend elections.

Late on Wednesday, the office of Myanmar president blamed Senior General Min
Aung Hlaing for creating “instability” and for violating a law banning partisanship by public officials.The nation of 54 million people goes to the polls on November 8.

Around 7,000 candidates from more than 90 parties are vying for more than 1,100 seats in both houses of the national parliament and in state and regional legislatures.On Monday, six days before the nationwide vote, a statement issued by Min Aung Hlaing highlighted public complaints of “weakness and deficiencies” in poll management.

The military is apprehensive of a sweeping victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

Because the NLD’s victory margins provide the ruling party with a huge majority, it may help them take a call on major constitutional reforms that have so far not been possible in the party’s first term of power.

The NLD had moved a flurry of amendments seeking changes to the Constitution like cutting down on the military representation in government and parliament that almost nullifies possibilities of changes.

The military under the 2008 Constitution enjoys a 25 percent representation in both houses of parliament and its representative man three key ministries – Home, Defence and Border Affairs — that gives it huge powers in national security related decisions, specially dealing with multiple ethnic insurgencies that the country has historically faced.

Since any amendment to the Constitution needs a 75 percent vote, it makes it nigh impossible to pass it if the military representatives and some lawmakers close to it oppose the same.

A provision in the Constitution bars anyone with foreign connections through marriage to contest for the position of the President — meaning Aung San Suu Kyi cannot contest for the country’s top job, though her British husband late Professor Michael Aris is long dead.

Suu Kyi has however created the position of the state counsellor to function as the de facto head of the government but her party is keen on erasing such constitutional limitations which they think was deliberately put in place by the military-drafted Constitution.

Courtesy – NeNow

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