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Myanmar: Elections Sans Political Leaders
|by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle|
Myanmar goes for elections on 7 November sans political leaders as military generals who have shed the uniform and powerful business magnates close to the regime in power in the country spar for seats which largely seem to be predetermined. Aung Suu Kyi the most popular political leader of the country and a Nobel laureate is incarcerated on flimsy charges and her party the National League for Democracy (NLD) has been disqualified though a shadow National Democratic Force is participating. Myanmar’s head of State, Senior General Than Shwe made rounds of New Delhi, capital of the largest democracy and Beijing of the most powerful authoritarian regime recently ironically both endorsing his plans to the hilt. Thus it is time for the World at large to introspect the relevance of elections seemingly to elect generals in civilian clothes and businessmen in league with government.
Formally the elections process was unfolded by the Union Election Commission of Myanmar vide Notification No. 91/2010 as a follow up of Notification No. 89/2010 dated 13-8-2010 which had announced multiparty democracy general elections for the Hluttaws (parliament) to be held on 7 November 2010. With Notification No.90/2010 dated 13-8-2010, the Commission had announced starting and last dates for submission of Hluttaws candidate list, the date to scrutinize applications of candidates and the last date to withdraw applications of candidates if needed. Now Notification 91/2010 outlines in detail the methods, “for Hluttaw candidates representing political parties and independent Hluttaw candidates who submit lists to present their policies, stances and work programmes and causes through talks or in writings for their candidates to win”. The Notification outlines procedures for assembling and giving talks, distribution of publications, applying for permission for assembling and giving talks, need for reporting in advance assembling and giving talks at the party headquarters and branches, publications, restrictions such as on giving public talks and distributing publications with intent to break up or tarnish the image of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) and so on.
The stringent rules and regulations that have been framed for the Hluttaws elections very clearly denote the manner in which these will be conducted with strict control of government agencies and effective monitoring. Thus “giving public talks and distributing publications with intent to break up or tarnish the image of the Tatmadaw” has been banned and therefore candidates will have to adopt a very mild campaigning format given that the Tatmadaw or the Myanmar Army junta has permeated all walks of public life. Mostly candidates may be bringing up very peripheral social and economic issues which will hardly enthuse the people.
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