The military regime that rules Burma with an iron fist claims it will hold ‘free’ and ‘fair’ elections in 2010—the supposed crowning moment of its self-lauded ‘Roadmap to Democracy.’
But these claims have been denounced by opposition groups, who say the proposed elections are nothing more than the final step in the hijacking of the democratic process with the intention of extending the regime’s military control through a rigged ballot and the election of a civilian proxy.
Moe Zaw Oo, joint secretary of the exiled branch of the National League for Democracy, says there’s not a politician in a democratic society who would accept the military regime’s conditions for the election.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
‘It’s supposed to be this year, it’s already March and they have yet to tell us the election date. How can we organize our campaigns and canvass our constituents?’ Moe Zaw asks. ‘You can see the election is rigged—look at the Electoral Laws. Look at the Electoral Commission. Look at the Constitution.’
Moe Zaw says the junta is leaving little to chance.
‘They handpicked their own man, Maj. Gen. Thein Soe, as the electoral commissioner and he’ll allow them [the regime] to do what they want, within and according to their law.’
One of the Electoral Laws, the Political Party Registration Law, allows the Committee to reject party applications. It also bans democracy organisations, armed groups opposed to the regime, groups or individuals receiving outside support and about 2,100 political prisoners from taking part in the elections. This includes National League for Democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as 430 jailed NLD members.
The party has 60 days to register with the Election Committee if it intends to contest the elections, with the committee having the right to reject the NLD’s application.
This places Burma’s main political opposition party, the NLD, in a tough position. By barring its charismatic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, it effectively checkmates the NLD. If the NLD wants to contest the 2010 elections, they have to kick her out of the party within 60 days.