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Junta’s Stalling Shows True Intent

By Burma Partnership  •  January 15, 2010

Last week we reported how the military regime is progressing with its preparations for the planned elections. This week we look at the efforts of democratic and ethnic opposition groups to organize among themselves.

On 11 January, the National League for Democracy appointed 9 new members to its Central Executive Committee in an effort to increase the participation of younger generations and make the party more active in the lead up to the elections. However, party General Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice-Chairman U Tin Oo remain under house arrest and the SPDC has denied requests for U Tin Oo to join in NLD meetings.

The Democratic Party of the so-called “third force” has added its voice to the opposition, criticizing the junta this week for not having released the election laws, and saying the regime is not giving enough time for parties to prepare. The party’s chairperson, U Thu Wei, said, “We expect that the election laws will impose a lot of restrictions and limitations which will leave more groups and people unable to participate.”

In a letter to Senior General Than Shwe, the Shan National League for Democracy requested a meeting with its imprisoned leaders, chairman Khun Htun Oo and secretary Sai Nyunt Lwin. It is doubtful that the junta will grant this request. In a statement on Jan 12th, the 47th Anniversary of Palaung Revolution Day, the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), a non-ceasefire armed ethnic group, issued a rallying cry, calling on all citizens of Burma to oppose the elections in whatever way they can. The PSLF vowed to continue their struggle against the elections that will make people of Burma “slaves under the military.” Ethnic leaders from political parties – the Arakan League for Democracy, the United Nationalities Alliance (a coalition of 12 ethnic parties), and the Mon National Democratic Front also declared their opposition to the junta’s elections this week.

On 14 January, at an ASEAN meeting in Vietnam, SPDC Foreign Minister Major General Nyan Win told his counterparts that this year’s elections would be free, fair and credible. However, the junta’s delay in releasing their election laws shows that the regime has no genuine intent on making these elections free, fair or credible as they claim. Taken alongside the military regime’s unwillingness to release political prisoners, engage in national reconciliation through dialogue and review of the Constitution, it is apparent that these elections will be nothing more than an attempt by the military to secure their control in Burma.

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