International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Burma elections: how the generals plan to cling on to power
On Sunday 8th November the people of Burma go to the polls in what has been billed as a landmark election. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is expected to win and so could form the next government.
Does this mean democracy has finally come to Burma? Should we be celebrating? Sadly not. As you might expect with the Burmese military, all is not as it seems.
Burma Campaign UK has published a detailed briefing paper with everything you need to know about the election.
As our report explains, the Burmese military carefully constructed Burma's 2008 Constitution to ensure they would retain ultimate control over the country, regardless of who wins the election. An NLD victory would not mean an end to military control.
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, conditions mean that 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.