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ASEAN ANALYSIS  1 October 2010

The controversial non-election

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   1 October 2010

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The ruling military junta in Myanmar has recently announced that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be released after the upcoming November 7 elections.

The announcement is seen by most observers to be a ploy to curry favor with anyone and any country and there are many for years that have been critical of the junta and its policies. The upcoming election seems to have split the international community. It also complies with the recent position of UN chief Ban Ki-moon that no election would be credible without the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

For example, Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recently said the world must exercise “utmost vigilance” so that the approaching elections in Myanmar are free and fair.

Previous UN statements and speeches have included the phrase, “all parties inclusive”, which is recently missing from UN pronouncements.

The public relations campaign of the junta involves a number of officers “resigning” from the army to stand for the elections and adopting civilian dress, including Myanmar’s rime minister and cabinet ministers.

Critics note that 25 percent of the seats in the new Parliament are reserved for the military. The appointed election commission has disqualified many from individuals and groups from participating in the elections.

The same critics say the new Parliament has no power to form the government or legislate military affairs and no advise and consent over the president’s appointees and budget. It appears to many that this election effort is window dressing to legitimize the status quo military dictatorship.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said after the meeting of the so-called Friends Of Myanmar, which included ministers from neighbours China and India as well as Britain and the United States, that the group had "clearly reiterated the need for the election process to be more inclusive participatory and transparent.” It is unlikely this will happen

Yet many European countries are supporting the elections as to them it is the only game in town, despite the admonitions from expatriate members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy that the election legitimizes the dictatorship and the Myanmar people legally become the subjects of the army.

Nothing is expected to change in Myanmar following the November 7 elections. The junta prospers from selling resources to its neighbors and the citizenry remain basically enslaved with no hopes for the future.

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