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International News

Feb 19, 2019
2:30PM

Myanmar sets up committee to discuss reforming constitution

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Myanmar today set up a committee to discuss reforming the country's military-drafted constitution.

This pits Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government openly against the powerful armed forces for the first time over the incendiary issue.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a landslide in 2015 elections but was forced into an uneasy power-sharing agreement with the armed forces.

Under a 2008 charter it drafted, the military controls all security ministries and is gifted a quarter of parliamentary seats. That hands the army an effective veto over any constitutional change. Suu Kyi's party has promised to reform the controversial document.

Myanmar parliament voted today to form a cross-party committee to debate reforms of the charter.

Deputy Speaker and committee chair Tun Tun Hein told Parliament that the main purpose of the panel will be to write a bill to change the 2008 constitution.

The NLD will be allocated 18 out of 45 seats on the panel, the military will have eight and the remainder will be divided between other parties. There has so far been no detail about the specific reforms the discussions would focus on.

But its formation threatens a political showdown with the army, whose bloc of MPs stood up in protest early February when the committee's formation was first mooted.

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