Burma’s Sunday elections ‘a meaningless exercise’
Published on November 4, 2010
It was obvious that the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) led by incumbent Prime Minister Thein Sein would win the victory, Shan intellectual Khuensai Jaiyen said.
“The only question we have now is how many seats they will get and how many will be left to the others,” he said during a panel discussion at Chulalongkorn University.
Of the 37 political parties in the race, only a few have the potential to compete with the junta-backed USDP. They are National Unity Party which is also pro-military but is a faction loyal to late dictator Ne Win, National Democratic Force and Shan National Democratic Party.
The military has done many things to help the USDP get more seats, said Khuensai, editor of Shan Herald Agency for News.
The junta has moved a number of eligible voters in areas where other parties have the potential to get votes and moved some to areas where its party has an upper hand, he said.
Some 400,000 people in Shan state are not included in the list of voters, he said. “One family I know has seven eligible voters, but only the name of one of them figures on the voters’ list,” Khuensai said.
A village in Shan state has a population of only 700 people but as many as 2,000 eligible voters have been named in the list, he said.
The first election in two decades is far from inclusive and transparent, he said. The election authority announced on Tuesday the exclusion of 12 more villages in ethnic minority dominant areas. It had already cancelled elections in 300 villages of minority dominant states in September.
The election’s credibility was also questioned as many potential opposition parties, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and the ethnic minority Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD), have boycotted it.
Win Hlaing of NLD (Liberated Area) said his party had decided to boycott the election as they found their struggle in the parliamentary system was without hope. The NLD won a landslide victory in the previous election in 1990 but the junta refused to transfer power to the party.
The coming election will not solve the basic problem of the country, Win Hlaing said. The problems of ethnic inequality, democratisation and poverty will not be resolved after the election, he said. “We have to continue our struggle [outside the parliament] to have genuine democratic reforms as the coming election is not the solution for our future,” he said.