03/15/2017, 10.06
MYANMAR
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Ko Ni had found a "loophole" to abolish the Constitution. The military had him killed

So says the assistant of the Muslim lawyer, assassinated in late January. A  single vote in Parliament would suffice, by simple majority, to "abolish" the Charter and "pave the way for a new decision”. His murder a “signal from military” to those who work for reform. "Climate of fear" within the NLD.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Ko Ni – the prominent constitutionalist and consultant of Aung San Suu Ky’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), who was assassinated in late January - was working to reduce the military power and towards reform. This is according to a close collaborator of Muslim lawyer, shot dead at Yangon International Airport. A revelation destined to feed the suspicions - repeatedly denied officially - of the upper echelons of the army being involved in the murder.

The 63 year-old Ko Ni, was a Muslim lawyer known in the country for his activism in the legal field. One of his many battles, perhaps the most important and which cost him his life, was devoted to attempts to reform the constitution imposed in 2008 in a farce referendum held by the military.

He was returning to Myanmar from Indonesia after attending an interfaith forum on tolerance and reconciliation. Last year, in an interview focused on constitutional reform, he stressed that "it is impossible" to change the Charter given the "persistent" opposition of the military. That is why, he added, "writing a new one is the best solution to give the country a Democratic Charter."

Although today's Myanmar is ruled by a civilian government, the Burmese army - the notorious Tatmadaw, that led the nation for over 50 years through a handful of generals - always remains the real strong power of the country. 25% of the seats in parliament are reserved for military officials and the Constitution provides that any attempt to reform must be approved by more than 75% of Members. The military are also exclusively entrusted some key roles in government, including the ministries of Defense, Interior and Borders. Conditions that, in fact, make it impossible to change the Charter without the approval of generals and colonels.

According to Bertil Lintner, a close associate of Ko Ni, the Burmese constitutionalist would have recently discovered a "loophole" to get around the military veto in an attempt to reform. In an interview with Voice of America (Voa) the Swedish journalist points out: "[Ko Ni] said that there is no point in the 2008 Constitution that the Constitution itself cannot be abolished by a single vote in Parliament." That's why it would be enough of a single vote by a simple majority "to abolish the Constitution and adopt a new one. He was working on this. "

Lintner also spoke of differences of opinion between Ko Ni and Aung San Suu Kyi: the leader of the NLD and Foreign Minister, prefers a "gradual reform" of the Charter; in contrast to the opinion of constitutionalist, calling for a showdown in parliament. Hence the decision of the high military spheres to plot the murder of the lawyer, as a "warning signal" from the men in uniform to those working to reduce their power and influence.

The death of Ko Ni, concludes Lintner, has created a "climate of fear" within the NLD. This claim is rejected by Win Thein, spokesman for the Democrats, adding that the climate is not of fear, but of pain "for a great loss."

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