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REGIME WATCH > ANATOMY OF THE REGIME
 
ANATOMY OF THE REGIME
 
According to the SPDC’s 2008 constitution, the 2010 elections seated a bicameral legislature that elected a President as head of state. While the illusion of a democratic presidential system with three branches of government is conveyed, a closer look at the government structure described in the constitution reveals that the military still has a central role in both the legislative and executive branches on both the national and local level. There are only token checks and balances in place between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
 
Legislative
 
National Parliament
(Pyidaungsu Hluttaw)
 
The National Parliament consists of two Assemblies or Hluttaws:

The People’s Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw) consists of 440 representatives who serve five-year terms.

• 330 representatives are elected on the basis of township and population.
• 110 representatives are Defense Services personnel appointed by the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief.

The National Assembly (Amyotha Hluttaw) consists of 224 representatives who serve five-year terms.

• 168 representatives are elected by each State or Division – 12 from each, including one representative from the one Self-Administered Division and five Self-Administered Zones.
• 56 representatives are Defense Services personnel appointed by the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief.

 
Division and State Parliaments
 
The unicameral Division and State Parliaments are comprised of the following:

• Two representatives elected from each township in the Divisions or the States, who serve five-year terms;
• Representatives serving five-year terms elected from each national race constituting 0.1% or more of the national population that are not allocated a Division/State or a Self-Administered Zone/Region in the Division/State in question;
• Defense Services personnel nominated by the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief to comprise up to 25% of the total number of elected representatives.

 
Executive
 
Presidency
 
The Presidency consists of one President and two Vice-Presidents, elected by the Presidential Electoral College. The President and the Vice-Presidents serve five-year terms.

The Presidential Electoral College is composed of three groups from the National Parliament:
• The 330 elected representatives from the People’s Assembly;
• The 168 elected representatives from the National Assembly; and
• The 166 appointed Defense Services personnel from both Assemblies.

Each group elects a Vice-President. Then, the entire National Parliament elects the President from among the three Vice-Presidents. Presidential responsibilities include:

• Appointing Union Ministers including the Chief Ministers of the States and Divisions;
• Granting pardons and granting amnesty based on the recommendations of the NDSC;
• Appointing diplomats;
• Establishing relations with foreign countries;
• Entering into international treaties subject to the consent of the National Parliament;
• Calling special sessions of parliament;
• Issuing laws between sessions of parliament;
• Taking military action in coordination with the NDSC; and
• Declaring war with the approval of the National Parliament.

 
Ministries
 
The President appoints Union Ministers. However, the constitution dictates that the President must obtain a “list of suitable Defense Services personnel” from the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief for the following ministries:

• Minister of Defense;
• Minister of Home Affairs;
• Minister of Border Affairs.

 
Defense Services
 
The supreme head of the military is the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief. The President appoints the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief with the proposal and approval of the National Defense and Security Council. However, as the 11-member Council is comprised of at least six Defense Service personnel, the appointment of the Commander-in-Chief is likely to be a mere rubber-stamp.
 
National Defense and Security Council (NDSC)
 
The National Defense and Security Council is comprised of the following persons:

(a) President;
(b) Vice-President #1;
(c) Vice-President #2;
(d) Speaker of the People’s Assembly;
(e) Speaker of the National Assembly;
(f) Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services;
(g) Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services;
(h) Minister for Defense;
(i) Minister for Foreign Affairs;
(j) Minister for Home Affairs;
(k) Minister for Border Affairs.

The constitution does not define the day-to-day role of the National Defense and Security Council. However, the Council takes a lead role in a State of Emergency, wherein it exercises the powers of the legislature, executive, and judiciary before the Parliaments are again formed. Of the total number, four persons will be appointed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services and one Vice-President chosen by Defense Services personnel, making it likely that at least six members of the Defense Services will sit on the NDSC.

 
Judicial
 
Supreme Court
 
The Supreme Court is comprised of seven to 11 members, including the Chief Justice. The President has the authority to appoint the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and, in coordination with the Chief Justice, appoint the remaining Justices. While the National Parliament must ratify the President’s selections, they have “no right to refuse” unless it can clearly prove that the President’s choice does not meet the constitutional requirements prescribed. On the Supreme Court, judges must be 50 or older and must retire at age 70.
 
State and Division High Courts
 
State and Regional High Courts are comprised of three to seven members. The President, in co-ordination with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Minister of the Division or State concerned, nominates the Chief Justice of the High Court of the Division or State. The Chief Minister of the Division or State concerned, in co-ordination with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court nominates Judges of the High Court of the Division or State.

In both cases, the Division or State Parliaments must ratify the President’s selections, they have “no right to refuse” unless it can clearly prove that the President’s nominee does not meet the constitutional requirements prescribed. The Division and State High Courts have the authority over courts at the District; Self-Administered Division and Zone; and Township level. Judges serving on the State/Division high courts must be older than 45 and must retire at age 65.

 
Constitutional Tribunal
 
The Constitutional Tribunal rules on constitutional questions and is comprised of nine members: three chosen by the President and three chosen by the Speakers of the People’s Assembly and National Assembly respectively.
 
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