Electoral Law May Disqualify Existing Parties
18 January 2010: Burma’s main opposition parties have not announced their intention to contest in the military-planned elections in 2010, but many of the existing political parties may automatically become ineligible to compete for parliamentary seats under the new set of laws governing electoral procedures to be announced soon by the junta.
Carefully crafted to suit the junta’s transition plan, the new election law may require certain conditions on the existing political parties, including the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) that could effectively exclude them from participating in the elections. Such conditions could compel existing political parties to make drastic reforms in order to qualify as eligible contestants under the new prescribedl rules, if they chose to participate.
Most of the political parties that registered for and contested in the 1990 elections had had their registration already revoked by the military regime.
Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya, after meeting with his Burmese counterpart Nyan Win, was quoted by Reuters last Thursday as saying that Burma has completed up to 70 percent of its electoral laws.
There are speculations from sources inside Burma that the election law might be announced as early as February. When promulgated, it will be followed immediately by the formation of the Election Commission. Political parties will then be invited to tender their registration with the Election Commission in accordance with the new law.
Imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from becoming head of government under the new constitution approved in the military-orchestrated referendum of 2008, which ensures supremacy for the military in Burmese politics.
Suu Kyi recently held a meeting with junta’s liaison Aung Kyi for about 30 minutes. The content of that discussion has not been publicly revealed. But sources have claimed that during that meeting the NLD leader was reminded of her ineligibility to become the “State leader” under the new constitution, but instead could be offered a “Ministerial Role” should the next elected President choose to do so.
If the junta-planned elections in 2010 went successfully as planned, a new ‘civilian government’ may be sworn in by as early as January 2011. Unlike previously, Suu Kyi is increasingly seen by the junta as more of a potential asset to help boost its image in the post-election periods than as a threat.
The 64 year-old imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate had twice written to the junta sumpremo Sr. General Than Shwe in the last four months requesting a personal meeting and expressing her willingness to cooperate with the ruling State Peace and Development Council in working to get the Western economic sanctions on Burma lifted.
The junta leader has not officially responded to her letters, but state-media has recently lambasted Suu Kyi for being dishonest in revealing the contents of her letters to the public and accused her of trying to ‘tarnish the image’ of the ruling military regime.