Brazen Killing of Myanmar Lawyer Came After He Sparred With Military

The funeral of U Ko Ni, a top adviser to the governing National League for Democracy, in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday. Credit Ye Aung Thu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

YANGON, Myanmar — The soft-spoken rights lawyer had devised a plan to replace Myanmar’s Constitution with one that would strip the military of its extraordinary political powers.

The lawyer, U Ko Ni, a top adviser to the governing National League for Democracy, had recently been working on a new draft, a colleague said, and he hoped to promote his project at a conference this month.

But when he returned to the Yangon airport on Sunday from a trip to Indonesia, cradling his young grandson in his arms as he waited for a taxi, a man drew a pistol and shot him in the head.

The killing appears to have been a rare political assassination in Myanmar, fueling rumors, distrust and worry about the country’s future.

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“This bullet was not only for Ko Ni,” the colleague, U Thein Than Oo, a human rights lawyer in Mandalay, Myanmar, said by telephone. “It was for the N.L.D. and the people who want to amend and replace the 2008 Constitution and support the peace process.”

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