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Myanmar accomplishes first step of roadmap to democracy as national convention ends
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15:27, September 03, 2007

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Myanmar announced the complete end of its national convention here Monday, laying down all detailed basic principles for drafting a new state constitution.

Observers here said this is the formal end of the first step of a seven-step roadmap to democracy.

The next task of the Myanmar military government is to set up a special commission to draw up a new state constitution based on all the detailed basic principles adopted throughout the convention, which will be followed by a national referendum and a general election to produce parliament representatives and formation of a new democratic government in line with the government's seven-step roadmap.

In accordance with the detailed basic principles adopted by the national convention, the future name of Myanmar will be the Republic of Union of Myanmar and the country's capital be Nay Pyi Taw which was just moved by the military government from Yangon.

The country will adopt an executive system of President as head of state and empower a Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament) which comprises Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives) and Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities) in legislation.

Specifically, the country will pursue a multi-party democracy system politically, while adopting a market-oriented economic system economically.

The basic principles designate that the country's administrative regions will, as similar to the present, be demarcated as seven regions (now known as divisions) and seven states of national races, and six other ethnic minorities who will have their self-administered zones or higher-level division.

The basic principles prescribe that the military should hold 25 percent of the parliament representatives in different-level parliaments and they are to be nominated by the armed forces' commander-in-chief. Besides, armed forces members are also to be nominated by the commander-in-chief to hold posts for four government ministries of defense, security, home affairs and border affairs. The defense services commander-in-chief will represent the supreme commander of all armed forces and has the right to take over and exercise state power in case of state emergency that could cause disintegration of the union, disintegration of national solidarity and loss of national sovereignty.

Dealing with the country's future foreign policy, the principled new state constitution also states that Myanmar will practice an independent, active and non-aligned one and maintain friendly relations with nations and upholding the principles of peaceful coexistence among nations. It will not allow foreign troops to be deployed in the country.

The Myanmar military took over the power of state on Sept. 18, 1988 after experiencing months-long political instability and adopted at once a multi-party political system and market-oriented economic system.

The military government sponsored a multi-party general election across the country on May 27, 1990, in which Aung-San- Suu-Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 parliamentary seats out of 485.

The government started convening the constitutional national convention in January 1993 but there emerged serious differences on some constitution-drafting principles between the military and the NLD, prompting the party to have walked out of the convention in November 1995. As a result, the national convention turned into a status of long adjournment from March 1996 to April 2004.

Aimed at realization of national reconciliation and pushing forward the process of democratization, the military government announced the seven-step roadmap in August 2003, which mainly include the reconvening of national convention, drafting of new state constitution, holding of national referendum on drafted constitution, sponsoring general election and formation of new civilian government.

In line with the roadmap, Myanmar resumed holding of the constitutional national convention, restarting the constitution- drafting process. However, citing the reason of military government's house arrest placed on the party's general secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and its vice-chairman U Tin Oo, the NLD kept boycotting the convention until its end.

The Myanmar military government has announced the complete end of the constitutional national convention but did not mention the duration period to be taken for drafting the constitution and the time table about when the national referendum on the drafted constitution will be held.

Observers here commented that Myanmar's constitution-drafting process is still not finished yet and the public concern will naturally focus on the country people's decision on the drafted constitution in the upcoming national referendum.

Source: Xinhua

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