Reps move towards impeachment (Burma/Myanmar)

Last week, I posted news about the constitutional crisis in Myanmar, in which the lower chamber of the legislature, the Pyithu Hluttaw, passed a resolution to impeach the Constitutional Tribunal members. On Friday, 162 MPs in the Amyotha Hluttaw passed a similar resolution. Notably, the votes in both chambers surpassed the two-thirds threshold necessary to impeach the judges.

However, it appears the legislature is still trying to give the tribunal members a way to back down. On Monday, A joint session of both chambers voted 447-168 (around 73%) calling upon the tribunal members to admit that they made a mistake in deciding that committees formed by parliament did not count as union-level organizations.

While Xinhua News did not provide a party-line breakdown of the vote, it seems that a broad coalition of MPs supports the impeachment drive, including Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker Shwe Mann and Aung San Suu Kyi. In fact, it appears the only large bloc against impeachment seems to be the military appointees. However, under § 334 of the Constitution, impeachment only requires a two-thirds vote, so the military does not have veto power.

The Myanmar Times interviewed me about the situation yesterday about the situation. I expressed my hope that the parliament could settle the dispute without impeachment because these sorts of constitutional crises tend to have long-term effects on judicial independence. However, perhaps more remarkable than the fact that a Burmese news journal decided to interview me is the fact that media are covering this dispute in depth and quite thoughtfully. Foreign-based experts like me can perhaps play a small role by informing the people of Myanmar about the experiences of courts from other countries.

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