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NLD takes wait and see approach on oath

Critic says party knew about wording, should fight for amendment from within

  • Thomas Toe, Yangon, and Mark Chit, Mandalay
  • Myanmar
  • April 24, 2012
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A spokesman for the National League for Democracy yesterday defended the opposition party’s decision not to attend the opening session of parliament earlier this week over a dispute about the wording of the constitutional oath of office.

U Ohn Kyaing said the party has taken a “wait and see” approach as party head Aung San Suu Kyi and others continue to insist on changes to the oath, which charges MPs to “protect” the constitution.

The spokesman said the party’s MPs would not join the parliamentary session “just for sitting” but rather to carry out their intentions of supporting the rule of law, internal peace and amendments to the 2008 constitution to bring it more in line with democratic norms.

“It’s too early to say what we will do if the government does not make the amendment [to the oath],” he said, adding that people supported the party on the basis of its platform.

“People have voted for us and if we do not keep our promise … they will not trust us anymore.”

U Thein Than Oo, a legal consultant based in Mandalay, said the NLD had tacitly accepted the 2008 constitution by taking part in the April 1 by-elections.

“If they did not accept it, they should not have taken part in the by-elections.”

Aung Thu Nyein, a Burmese analyst with the Vahu Development Institute, said the NLD had made a mistake in taking a stand on the oath.

“I think the NLD should participate in the parliament and then they should propose comprehensive political and economic reform strategies,” he said in an interview this week with the Democratic Voice of Burma.

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