Myanmar is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia with unitary presidential republic form of government, where fair election is rare. Myanmar has been mostly under military rule and preoccupied with rampant ethnic strife for most of its independent years.
First general election in Independent Burma was held between June 1951 and April 1952, it took several months due to internal conflict. In this election, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) came up with 60% vote with 147 seats out of 250. It was the lowest turnout since 1920s.
Second general election was held on 27 April 1956 and again AFPFL came up with 202 seats out of 250. The reaming 48 were decided automatically as no opposition candidates were entered against the ruling party.
Third general election was held on 6 February 1960 when there was split in AFPFL and there was clean swipe by AFPFL faction led by former premier U Nu. This year marked with the disturbance in Burma political arena. General Ne Win was already given credited to bring stability and improving infrastructure in the country before the third general election. General Ne Win was Prime Minister from 1958 to 1960 and in March 1962 he declared a coup which was followed with persecution with many political leaders. His reign lead to many autocratic policy which can be seen through the arrest of ethnic leaders, banning of all opposition political parties and bringing one party rule under the banner of Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) founded by himself. He ruled till 1987. In August 1988 there was uprising against him and resulted in another coup and election held under the new military administration which was renamed as State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) on May 27, 1990. Win did not come in the favour of SLORC, the major opposition party named the National League for Democracy (NLD) won with landslide victory. They got 392 out of 492 seats, and NLD was supposed to form government under parliamentary system. SLORC refused to acknowledge this result and People’s Assembly was never convened. This was the only free and fair election when NLD was free to participate.
The Military Junta kept Aung Sang Suu Ki, leader of NLD under house arrest. SLORC was abolished in November 1997 and replaced by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
There was a hide and seek game between democracy and military rule and military rule always won. A referendum for the new constitution was announced by SPDC on February 7 2008, which held on May 10 and another date for general election was announced. This happened for the first time in last 20 years, however, NLD was rejected for participating in general election. Though, NLD was allowed to take part in 2012 by-election. Ms.Suu kyi was released for the election from house arrest and she won her seat from Pyithu Hluttaw.
General Election 2015
2015 general election in Buram would be held on 8 November 2015. Voting will be conducted in all the constituencies excluding seats appointed by the Military for the House of Nationalities (the Upper house) and House of representative (the Lower house).
People of Burma are expecting this election to be the freest, fairest vote after general election of 1990.
Opposition leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi has assured of participation of NLD in general election to be held in November.
Suu kyi is a revered and popular leader of Burma who always fought to establish democracy there. She has spent 15 years under house arrest and barred from the Presidency post because of constitutional provision (under Article 59(f) of Burma’s controversial Constitution) which states that those with foreign children would not be able to contest election for the president and her late husband was British, she has two British sons. It is expected that in spite of all odds, NLD would win considerable number of seat in both houses of parliament.
She assures of taking Burma towards full democracy and save it from the repressive police of Military Junta.
There were many Western sanctions against Burma due to violation of Human rights but when President Thein Sein, a former general brought many reforms in 2011, these sanctions were lifted but Suu Kyi claims that these reforms were superficial and still many political prisoners are in jail and media is tightly controlled.
Basically, its fight between ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which consists of Military and civil servants personal who retired to become candidates and NLD led by Suu Kyi. Though, many more political parties will be contesting this election.
Myanmar present President Thein Sein of USDP has confirmed not to contest for the second term because of his ill health. At the other hand NLD has kept the name of its Presidential candidate anonymous. NLD is also trying to make agreement with ethnic parties in order to contest more than 1200 constituencies without clashing with allies.
Issues for general election 2015
• The Rohingya Muslim: this is one of the burning issues in Burma political arena, being the Buddhist majority, Myanmar never welcomed pro Rohingya policy and Ms. Suu Kyi will not take risk losing voter support by getting too sympathetic towards Rohingya.
• To bring another referendum for amendment in the constitution. So that laws could be more liberal. If NLD comes to power, scrapping of Article 59(f) Constitution would first agenda as this clause has barred Ms. Suu Kyi from becoming President.
• To bring all ethnic groups fighting against the government for the peace talk which would help in promoting democratic norms and values.
• Irregular and illegal migration from neighboring areas which cause problem to both countries, like there is Bangladeshi migrants in Burma and Rohingya in Bangladesh and India.
• Release of political prisoners, expanded media freedoms.
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