Suu Kyi’s party’s call to reject constitution

Yangon, April 2:

Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party today urged voters to reject an army-backed constitution, turning next month’s referendum into Myanmar’s first battle for ballots in nearly 20 years.

The National League for Democracy issued a statement calling on the public “to clearly and bravely vote ‘No’ when you mark your ballots.” The party accused Myanmar’s ruling junta of handpicking the drafters of the constitution, saying it was written without consulting any opposing voices.

The final version of the constitution has not been released to the public, but leaked copies show the basic law would give the military continued dominance over the government even after elections slated for 2010.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize winner who is under house arrest, would be barred from running for president because she married a Briton.

The military would also receive broad powers to declare a state of emergency, allowing the generals to take direct control of the government while granting them immunity from prosecution.

The NLD said the constitution would not bring democracy to Myanmar, the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma, which has been ruled by the military since 1962.

“It cannot give any guarantee for democracy and human rights, which are strongly needed by the people,” the party said.

“It is not in accord with the basic democratic principle that the sovereign power of the state is derived from the people,” it added.