Myanmar elections to prolong dictatorship
* Ruling junta billed polls as a key step toward democracy
* Philippines calls Yangon elections ‘farce’
YANGON: The political party of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which has opted out of the upcoming elections, said that the poll will only prolong military dictatorship and noted that citizens had the right not to vote, a party statement said.
The ruling junta has billed the election as a key step toward democracy after five decades of military rule. But critics say that oppressive rules governing campaigning, the repression of the main opposition party and the new Constitution insures that the military will continue its commanding role after the polls.
A statement by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, seen Tuesday night, said the election on Nov. 7 would merely activate a 2008 constitution which ‘does not guarantee ethnic rights, civil rights, basic human rights and other democratic rights.’
The National League for Democracy statement also called on voters to file complaints with police if they are coerced by anyone to vote. Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize laureate still under house arrest, said earlier that citizens have the right not to vote and that forcing others to vote amounts to breaking the law. She has carefully avoided asking voters to take any specific action, evidently to avoid prosecution under broadly defined laws.
Separately, Myanmar’s election is a democratic farce, the Philippines said in a document outlining President Benigno Aquino’s position at an Asian summit this week where differences over the military-ruled nation could bring discord.
The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) faces divisions over reclusive and recalcitrant Myanmar, days before its first election in two decades, at the gathering in Vietnam of leaders aiming to forge an economic and political union in the next five years. Myanmar’s grim record on human rights damages ASEAN’s reputation and credibility and is an obstacle to cooperation with some of its international partners.
It is also a source of friction within ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
‘It is increasingly evident that the forthcoming elections ... will continue to be a farce to democratic values of transparency, fairness, provision for ‘level playing field’, credibility and all-inclusiveness,’ the Philippines government said in the document prepared for Aquino’s meetings this week and seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The Myanmar military, which has ruled since 1962, says the election will be fair and will return the country to civilian rule but critics say it is a sham aimed at ensuring the generals remains firmly in control. agencies