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Nearly 5 million petition to change Myanmar charter

YANGON, Myanmar – The party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi had collected nearly 5 million signatures in support of changing Myanmar’s military-drafted constitution and challenging the military’s dominance in parliament.

An article in the 2008 constitution requires 75 percent parliamentary approval to amend major chapters of the charter, but with the military occupying 25 percent of the seats, any major constitutional change will be a hurdle.

Another clause prevents Suu Kyi from becoming president.

Her party’s campaign to change the article requiring the 75 percent approval garnered 4,941,998 signatures from May 27 to July 19.

National League for Democracy party spokesman U Nyan Win said Wednesday the campaign for signatures was successful despite pressure and intimidation by authorities to those who signed, as well as difficult access to villages in the rainy season.

“Being able to garner nearly 5 million signatures was a success. Even some government servants and soldiers participated in the campaign,” Nyan Win said at a news conference at the party’s headquarters.

Suu Kyi said the current constitution needs to be amended to meet democratic norms and the constitutional amendment is essential for a free and fair 2015 election.

Prominent student activist Ko Ko Gyi said the campaign was “the first step toward charter amendment” and hoped “the parliament will take into consideration the aspirations of five million people.”

The party will submit the list of signatures to parliament. Most members of the committee tasked with amendments belong to the military-allied party.