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Upper house MPs on Friday initiated a petition calling on the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether a recent motion to grant voting rights to temporary identification card-holders is in breach of the Constitution.
The temporary registration cards, commonly known as “White cards”, are ID documents that are issued, in particular, to the non-recognised Rohingya population of Arakan State. An estimated 850,000 people hold white cards, whereby they are denied rights of citizenship but are entitled to vote in elections, including the proposal to allow them to participate in an upcoming constitutional referendum later this year.
Led by Rakhine National Party Chairman and Upper House MP Aye Maung, the petition has so far garnered 28 MP signatures, including representatives from the National League for Democracy and the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.
Constitutional Tribunal Law states that if an approved parliamentary bill is contested as unconstitutional, a petition with signatures from at least 10 percent of MPs or the two house speakers can be submitted to the tribunal for review.
“The upper house speaker will scrutinise our petition according to procedures and hand it over to the Constitutional Tribunal,” he said, adding that the petitioners will also prepare legal representation for a Constitutional Tribunal hearing, once a date has been fixed.
The white card controversy arose after the bicameral union parliament voted on 2 February to grant voting rights to white card-holders, infuriating Arakanese MPs, who have threatened to call public protests to oppose the bill.