Myanmar president enacts law allowing referendum on disputed constitution

YANGON, (Reuters) – Myanmar’s president has approved a law allowing a referendum on changes to the constitution, lawmakers said on Wednesday, a move that could eventually lift what amounts to a ban on opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency.

President Thein Sein’s government has come under domestic and international pressure to reform Myanmar’s political system, which is stacked in favour of the military, before a general election this year.

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party have been pushing for changes to the constitution, which the military drafted.

One clause bars Suu Kyi from becoming president because her two sons are British citizens, a chapter U.S. President Barack Obama said made “no sense”. Suu Kyi’s late husband was British.

The NLD also says that the constitution grants too much political power to the military, which ruled Myanmar in brutal fashion from 1962-2011.

“Now that the law has been enacted, the Election Commission is soon expected to name a suitable date for the referendum in May,” Thein Nyunt, a lower house lawmaker from the New National Democratic Force.

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