Preview to Burma’s election


MELBOURNE — On May 25, about 50 people attended a forum on Burma's election, which is due to occur this year.

The forum was addressed by Debbie Stothard, coordinator of Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, who noted the many undemocratic structures set up by the military junta.

She said: “The 2008 constitution will guarantee military control over the election and resulting parliament. Election commissioners are handpicked by the regime, political parties must exclude ‘convicted persons’ such as Aung San Suu Kyi and there is severe censorship and restrictions on campaigning.

“In the 18 months before 2010, 477 dissidents were imprisoned for terms of up to 104 years and the number of prisoners has doubled since 2007.”

Stothard also noted that Western aid officials, including from Australia, are looking at the elections as a way to normalise relations and open up Burma’s oil and gas resources.

“However, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the major ethnic parties have decided to act on principle and are encouraging people to boycott the elections”, Stothard said.

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