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New Election Briefing Paper – Constitution Ensures Continued Military Control

By Burma Campaign UK  •  October 30, 2015

Burma Campaign UK today publishes a new briefing paper – Burma’s 2015 Elections and the 2008 Constitution, containing detailed analysis of what is likely to happen after election day, the process of the elections, and key election statistics.

Key points from the briefing include:

  • Regardless of who wins the election, the military has control and/or influence over every level of government and will still have ultimate control over the country.
  • An NLD government could be powerless to stop many human rights violations as they will not have control over the armed forces, police, or security services. As a result, attacks against ethnic groups, use of rape as a weapon of war, and the arrest and jailing of critics of the military, could continue under an NLD government.
  • For the first time since independence, ethnic Rohingya are largely unable to vote and will not have an MP in Parliament.
  • For the first time since independence, Parliament is unlikely to contain a single Muslim MP.
  • At least 20% of the population of Burma, more than 10 million people, have been deliberately disenfranchised or are unable to vote for other reasons.
  • The elections will not bring Burma closer to addressing key issues relating to ethnic aspirations and rights.
  • Neither the NLD or USDP are likely to ensure ethnic Rohingya have the rights and protection they are entitled to under international law, and external pressure will be required whoever forms the next government.
  • Even before a single vote was cast, the elections cannot be either free, fair, credible or inclusive.
  • The 2008 Constitution is designed for the eventuality of an NLD government without it being a threat to military interests.
  • The election results are likely to highlight growing ethnic and religious divides in Burma.
  • The election may usher in a government which is chosen by the people and able to implement policies and laws which benefit many people, despite being hamstrung on many issues.
  • The election is also a key moment in the transition to a new form of military control and may consolidate continuing military control over the country.
  • Victims of ongoing human rights violations cannot wait for a decades-long slow transition to a genuine democracy.

“Too much attention has been on the process of the elections rather than what happens after the elections,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Through the 2008 Constitution, the military have ensured that regardless of the votes on election day, they still win.

“An NLD government would be able to implement policies which will make a real difference to millions of people, but as the military and police will be outside the control of an NLD government, serious human rights violations could continue. An NLD government will also be unable to make the changes to the Constitution which are necessary to make Burma more democratic, and negotiate a genuine peace and political settlement with ethnic groups.”

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This post is in: Press Release

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