UEC chair says it will be dif­fi­cult to hold a na­tion­wide ref­er­en­dum on con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment this year

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS / INTERVIEW - Hein Ko Soe

Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (UEC) chair U Tin Aye told Mizzima Weekly on May 26 that it would be very dif­fi­cult to hold a na­tional ref­er­en­dum on con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment prior to the elec­tion. This year’s elec­tion is likely to be held in Oc­to­ber or the first week of Novem­ber.

“Af­ter ed­u­cat­ing vot­ers, we will have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to hold it, so we will hold it. But, I can­not say whether we can hold it or not. In the year in which the gen­eral elec­tion will be held, I will have dif­fi­culty in hold­ing the na­tion­wide ref­er­en­dum,” he said.

It will take a long time to pre­pare for the na­tional ref­er­en­dum on con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment, and cit­i­zens need to be ed­u­cated about the points that need to be amended, says U Tin Aye.

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 5 (a) of the na­tional ref­er­en­dum law en­acted on 10 Fe­bru­ary, 2015, the Union Par­lia­ment will have to ask the Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion to hold a na­tion­wide ref­er­en­dum on con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment.

Sec­tion 436 (b) of the con­sti­tu­tion says that 95 sec­tions of the con­sti­tu­tion can be amended with the prior ap­proval of more than 75 per­cent of all the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Union As­sem­bly.

Many crit­ics have voiced con­cern over the pos­si­bil­ity that the con­sti­tu­tion will not be amended in the com­ing months.

If the au­thor­i­ties fail to amend the con­sti­tu­tion, this year’s gen­eral elec­tion will not be free and fair, the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Al­liance and the 88-Gen­er­a­tion Peace and Open So­ci­ety said in a meet­ing they held at the Hol­i­day Restau­rant in Yan­gon on May 22.

They said that at the cur­rent time, the eth­nic mi­nori­ties are united and po­lit­i­cal forces are united, so all they need is to amend the 2008 Con­sti­tu­tion.

“To clearly ex­plain the amend­ment of the con­sti­tu­tion is par­lia­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said UEC chair­man U Tin Aye. “I’ll do it in ac­cor­dance with my duty. But the process is very long. It is not easy.”

Ear­lier, Par­lia­ment Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann has re­peat­edly told the in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal me­dia that the na­tion­wide ref­er­en­dum on con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment was likely to be held in May or in the pe­riod prior to the elec­tion

Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion chair­man U Tin Aye. Photo: Mizzima

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