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|21 August 2009
ICG sees ‘opportunity for change; in Myanmar
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned world leaders against squandering an “opportunity for change” in the military-ruled country when it holds elections next year, reported Indonesian daily the Jakarta Post.
The warning came amid outrage and frustration over Myanmar’s decision to extend the house detention of the frail democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a report titled “Myanmar: Towards the Elections”, released Thursday, the ICG admitted the elections will not be free and fair without Suu Kyi and other detained political dissidents, but “the constitution and elections together will fundamentally change the political landscape in a way the government may not be able to control”.
“Senior Generals Than Shwe and Maung Aye may soon step down or move to ceremonial roles, making way for a younger military generation. All stakeholders should be aware of opportunities that may arise to push the new government toward reform and reconciliation,” the report said.
The elections, it says, are significant because the controversial constitution, approved in 2008, which serves as a basis for the electoral process, involves a complete change in the political structure. This, it argues, includes establishing a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature as well as fourteen regional governments and assemblies.
“The military presumably wants to use the elections to ensure its continued dominance, but this is the most wide-ranging shake-up in a generation,” the group’s Southeast Asia project director, Jim Della-Giacoma said in a statement.
“Domestic and international stakeholders should be alert to opportunities that may arise to push the new government toward reform and reconciliation,” it says.
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