An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
A clause in the 2008 Constitution, drafted when the country was under military rule, prevents Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from taking the top job because her husband, who died in 1999, was a British citizen, and she has two children who are British citizens. “I’ve made it quite clear that if the N.L.D. wins the elections and we form a government, I’m going to be the leader of that government whether or not I’m the president,” she told the Indian television channel India Today TV.
- Renaud Egreteau: Could Aung San Suu Kyi be Myanmar's next House Speaker? The Diplomat
- NLD leadership ambitions trigger deabte - The Myanmar Times
- Shawn Crispin: Could Myanmar's elections devolve into disorder? The Diplomat
- Secret survey shows Suu Kyi poised to annihilate generals - The Times
Archival and Historical
Researchers may wish to know that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now released files for 1982 relating to Burma/Myanmar. These include File FCO 15/3177 “Burmese Citizenship Law 1982” which includes diplomatic reporting on the significance of the Act, from both British and Australian sources.
While the Act is described by First Secretary Roger Leeland as “blatantly discriminatory on racial grounds”, he observes that “it would be possible to argue that the new Law is a generous and far-sighted instrument to resolve over a period of years an awkward legacy of the colonial era”. Second Secretary Roland Rich at the Australian Embassy comments that “…..the discretion given to the executive branch of government, unchecked by even the possibility of judicial review, means that judgement must be reserved until there has been an opportunity to assess the spirit in which the Law will be implemented.”
Derek Tonkin writes: These reports merit close reading because they support the conclusion today that it is not so much the letter of the Act as the subsequent bureaucratic obstruction which has led to the very serious difficulties over citizenship which Arakan Muslims in Rakhine State face today.
- Text of Burma Citizenship Law dated 15 October 1982
- Speech on citizenship law by General Ne Win on 8 October 1982
- Letter to the FCO from the British Ambassador commenting on the draft law - 12 May 1982
- Text of draft citizenship law: Public Consultation document - 'The Guardian' 21 April 1982
The extent to which Chittagonian migrants into Arakan have usurped
The guardians of this system have shown a remarkable capacity for advanced planning, strategy and patience. They have also shown flexibility; an ability to change course if one or another strategies are failing.
Burma’s opposition parties themselves need to develop better long-term strategies and stamp their own vision on an improved system of governance and society. Governance through force and cooption cannot last forever.
In a passage on internal affairs, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin made the following points:
24. Myanmar is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country where freedom of
religion is guaranteed in its State Constitution. Buildings of different faiths are
standing side by side across the country where different communities share same
25. The situation in Rakhine State has changed. The government has managed not
only to prevent any new violence but also started to promote culture of peace through
Interfaith Dialogue and talks among communities and their leaders. Peace and
stability has been restored.
26. As I speak, more than 20 different aid organizations are providing
humanitarian and other assistance in Rakhine State. We thank the regional and
international partners for their kind assistance to humanitarian, resettlement,
reintegration and development needs.
By any account next month’s election in Myanmar will be historic. It will be the country’s first free national ballot since 1990 and the first in which opposition figures, led by the living symbol Aung San Suu Kyi, will be vying in a general election against the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
It will also be the largest election in Myanmar’s history: a complex, kaleidoscopic race that will see 93 parties and 6,189 candidates contest 1,171 constituencies in national and regional parliaments. When Myanmar’s voters go to the polls on November 8, the world will truly be watching.
While the 2015 election will indeed be an important marker on the twisting road out of military rule, the ultimate destination remains far from a foregone conclusion. Indeed, rather than determining one way or the other the success of Myanmar’s so-called democratic “transition” – a word suggesting a natural, even inevitable, process – the poll is likely to give way to a new phase of fragility, contingency and political gymnastics. Read more....
Myanmar’s firebrand Buddhist monk Wirathu has openly endorsed President Thein Sein’s ruling party in the Nov. 8 general election, saying Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party was “full of themselves” and unlikely to win the vote. Hardline monks will push for laws banning Muslim dress and other Muslim customs, Wirathu said Sunday before a rally held by thousands of members of the radical Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha.
“If we have to choose the best, it is the President Thein Sein’s government,” Wirathu added. “They could open the doors and work step by step for peace and development.” Asked about Wirathu’s remarks, a senior NLD member, Win Htein, said, “He should go to hell ... According to the teachings of Buddha, monks shouldn’t get involved in political affairs. They should be neutral.”
Myanmar Ethnic Peace Process: Two Important Studies
The election is not about policy differences among the parties. The USDP stands for army-backed continuity. The ethnic parties stand for the interests of their own communities. And though the NLD has made some feints towards policy - taking stands in favour of sustainable development, good governance, reducing inequality and other platitudes - it is chiefly a vehicle for the cult of Ms Suu Kyi.
The cult is enforced with discipline. Among other things, NLD candidates are banned from talking to journalists. One candidate from the Mandalay region, in the middle of the country, conveys no policy message to voters and makes no personal appeals. “Don’t think about anything,” he tells them. “Just look for this symbol,” he said, pointing to a badge on his lapel depicting the NLD’s fighting peacock beneath a star against a red background, “and tick the box.”
- Rising Arakanese party could further marginalise Rohingya - Reuters/The Irrawaddy
- Hardline monks and Myanmar's opposition clash in social media row - Reuters
- 7 things to know about Burma's upcoming elections: Charlie Campbell - TIME
- Myanmar Times interviews Trevor Wilson, former Australian Ambassador, on the elections
“It is crucial that these proceed in a fair, inclusive and transparent atmosphere. This responsibility rests with the Government, the Union Election Commission and the Army, but also all sections of Myanmar society,” he said at a meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, held on the margins of the high-level segment of the United Nations General Assembly. "I am deeply disappointed by this effective disenfranchisement of the Rohingya and other minority communities. Barring incumbent Rohingya parliamentarians from standing for re-election is particularly egregious."
Pu Zing Cung said the ethnic groups wanted all factions to sign, including the three blackballed by the government – the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the ethnic Chinese rebels of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) fighting in the Kokang border area.
- International community must support peace in Myanmar: Richard Horsey - Financial Times
- Will democracy bring peace to Myanmar: Dr Marte Nilsen - IAS Review Oslo
- The Kachin Conflict: A Timeline - The Irrawaddy
Derek Tonkin writes: The prospects for an NCA at some time during October 2015 do not look encouraging. An NCA would provide a tremendous boost to the election prospects of the governing USDP and it is unlikely that most ethnic parties would welcome this. Contrary to most analyses, I do not myself believe that all that much would be lost by deferring a signature until the new government is formed in February/March 2016, after the elections. An NCA then might be built on a more solid basis.
This would not be inconsistent with the view expressed in the 'Readout" of the 29 September meeting of the UNSG's partnership group on Myanmar which noted: "In regard to the peace process, though key differences still remain, Member States welcomed the perseverance shown by all sides in their effort to stabilise a nationwide ceasefire, build trust and move towards the start of a meaningful political dialogue. All stakeholders were urged to remain actively involved in the next stage of negotiations." This would not suggest that partnership members are in any sense holding their breath in expectation.