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Myanmar opposition urges rejection of proposed constitution in May referendum

[JURIST] The National League for Democracy (NLD), the main opposition party in Myanmar [JURIST news archive], on Wednesday urged citizens to reject the proposed constitution put forth by Myanmar's military government. In a statement to Reuters, an NLD spokesman appealed to citizens to vote against the constitution when they go to the polls next month, following similar calls by the opposition group 88 Generation Students [Asia Times backgrounder] labeling the referendum a "sham" to legalize military rule. In February, the military government announced in a television broadcast that it will hold the constitutional referendum in May [JURIST report], and promised that multi-party elections will follow in 2010.

On Monday, AP reported that it has obtained a copy of the proposed constitution [AP report; JURIST report] and said that the document would reserve 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military and would also block pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from seeking the presidency or a seat in parliament due to her foreign husband. According to AP, the draft constitution also provides a mechanism by which the president may cede legislative, executive, and judicial functions to the military for up to one year in the event of a state of emergency. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been governed without a constitution since the military regime took power in 1988 and talks on a new national charter [JURIST report] have been underway for 14 years. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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