Constitution of 1947
- Approved by the Constituent Assembly on September 24, 1947, the 1947 Constitution served as the basic law of the Union of Burma when it became independent on January 4, 1948. It created a system that one of the drafters described as "federal in theory and unitary in practice." The three ethnic minority states: were Kachin, Kayah (Karenni), and Shan (the last formerly the Federated Shan States and Wa States; a fourth state, Karen State, was added by amendment in 1951), and Chin Special Division (later Chin State). What in colonial times had been Burma Proper was composed of divisions. Among the divisions, the governmental system was unitary, but the minority states and Chin Special Division were granted limited autonomy, including their own assemblies, whose elected members served concurrently in the Union Parliament. The Union government, headed by a prime minister in the manner of Westminster, reserved portfolios for Shan, Kayah, Karen, and Chin affairs; the ministers served concurrently as heads of state in their respective jurisdictions. Most controversially, Shan and Karenni States were guaranteed the right to secede from the Union 10 years after promulgation of the Constitution. The head of state was the president of the Union of Burma, who served for a five-year term. The Union Parliament was bicameral, composed of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Nationalities.The 1947 Constitution was in effect from January 4, 1948, until March 2, 1962, when General Ne Win established the Revolutionary Council (RC) and closed down parliamentary political institutions. However, it was not abolished but remained operative in areas not affected by decrees issued by the RC. Following a December 1973 referendum, the Constitution of 1974 established the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. The status of the 1947 Constitution (and its 1974 successor) remain ambiguous: in June 1989, a spokesman for the State Law and Order Restoration Council suggested that representatives elected in "multiparty democratic general election" scheduled for May 1990 could choose which constitution to use as the country's basic law or draft a new one.
Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Donald M. Seekins . 2014.
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