Travel ban fuels talk of Myanmar constitutional challenge

 NAY PYI TAW/YANGON: The party of Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has instructed its lawmakers not to leave the capital, rank-and-file members said, fuelling speculation of a legal bid to sidestep a clause in the constitution barring the democracy champion from the presidency.

Eight new lawmakers from the National League for Democracy (NLD) said the party's top governing body, the 15-strong Central Executive Committee (CEC), had told them to stay in Nay Pyi Taw, where the NLD-dominated parliament began its five-year term this week.

"We are not allowed to take any leave until the end of next week," said a new NLD member who did not want to be identified. "One of the NLD CEC members said there may be some important matters or emergency bills coming up next week."

The directive has intensified speculation among lawmakers that the party could table legislation to suspend the provision that prevents Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi from becoming president despite her thumping win in a historic election in November.

Senior NLD figures either declined to comment or said they were not aware of such a move, which would represent a major shift in their strategy and could pose a direct challenge to the still-powerful military.

The NLD, which won about 80 per cent of the contested seats in the November poll, has so far taken a conciliatory approach to dealing with its former enemies in the armed forces, who ruled the former Burma with an iron fist for almost 50 years.

Representatives of the outgoing, military-linked government said any attempt to circumvent the provision would be unlawful.

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