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Burma: No ethnic autonomy under military dominated sham parliament

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Burma has already come to an end holding its namesake polls in last November. The elections were regarded as the ugliest vote rigging show of the country's history. According to Burmese junta's 2008 constitution, the incoming legislative body will convene its first session 90 days after the Election Day (7 November, 2010) to elect a president and two vice presidents and to form a new government. So, the new parliamentary session seems to be held in last week of this January as many political analysts have speculated.

Burma celebrated its 63rd anniversary of independence on 4th January, 2011. Burma gained its independence from Britain on 4 January, 1948. But the country experienced with democracy until 1962, when the military seized power to which it has since clung.

The current military junta has emerged in 1988 after violently suppressing mass pro-democracy protests. It held a general election in 1990, but refused to recognize the results after a landslide victory by the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has just released from house-arrest recently. She was under detention for more than a decade and a half and freed on 13 November, 2010.

Some ethnic Shan leaders believe that the then Shan's leadership decision to depart the British colonialism on 7th February 1947 had paved the way to Burma's Independence sunshine on 4 January 1948. The decision was taken by the Shan States Council, comprising the ruling princes and people's representatives of Shan States, as Shan State was known then, at the Panglong Conference from 3 to 12 February 1947.

So, up to this day, Shan community believe they deserve autonomy as a free people. However, Burmese military regime has no attitude to allowing equal status to the ethnic nationalities of Burma including the Shans. The major disagreement between junta and the opposition NLD led by Aung San Suu Kyi is no other than to give equal category to all ethnic groups.

Latest political scenario is still blurred although a multi-party general election on 7 November has been done. In accordance with the figures pronounced by Union Election Commission (UEC), a total of 1,148 candidates representing political parties and 6 independent candidates were elected as parliamentary representatives at three levels.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), led by Prime Minister Thein Sein, won the majority of 882 parliamentary seats or 76.43 percent out of the total1, 154 seats. The USDP is followed by the National Unity Party (NUP) with 64 seats, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) with 57 seats, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party with 35 seats, National Democratic Force (NDF) and the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP) each with 16 at three levels of parliament.

Meanwhile, the SNDP Chairman Sai Aik Paung told a party conference in Taunggyi in mid-December that the party has achieved extraordinary unity among ethnic Shan nationals.   The December 13-15 conference set up about 180 members, including 57 winning candidates from the November 7 election, as said by the Myanmar Times December 20 - 26, 2010 Issue.

The Shan Nationalities Democratic Party won 57 of the 156 seats and the third-largest number of candidates in national and regional legislatures, after the USDP.

Simultaneously, the three ceasefire armed groups have challenged Burma Army that pressured them to transform into Border Guard Forces (BGFs). For that reason, the groups have come around declining BGF plan in order to avoid Burmese junta's oppressive strategies.   The UWSA, the NDAA, and the Shan State Army-North are along with the other armed ethnic groups which are defying the military regime's demands on them to join its Border Guard Force (BGF). Actually, the junta's BGF program intended to win over the ceasefire groups through laying down their arms.          

Coincidentally, the United Wa State Army (UWSA)'s political wing United Wa State Party (UWSP) has drawn another contradict proposal which includes a point to demand for a state with the Right of Self Determination from the new government, quoting UWSP sources Shan Herald Agency for News said.

The UWSP's new proposal which is to be presented to the new parliamentary government expected to be held early 2011. In the proposal, UWSP says that their armed force will remain in the Wa State to defend their independence. Although they will not secede from the Union, they will steadfastly demand for a state with the Right of Self Determination from the upcoming government, upholding a policy of non-alignment and neutrality.

The said proposal was drawn at the UWSP's 5th annual district level party congress which is being held in Mongmai, 170 km north of its main base Panghsang from 20 to 29 December. According to a Wa officer, after the December Congress, the UWSP leading party committee will send its delegation to talk with the new government on the basis of 'Opposition to War' and 'Work for Peace and Development' principle.

Subsequently, General meeting of the 3rd Central Standing Committee (CSC) of the 14th KNU Congress was fruitfully held from December 14 to 19, 2010, according to the Karen National Union (Supreme Headquarters) source. KNU adopted the four guiding principles delineated by the late heroic leader Saw Ba U Gyi. The four principles are "Surrender is out of the question", "We shall retain our arms", "Recognition of Karen State must be complete" and "We shall decide our own political destiny."

KNU says in its statement dated 23 December 2010: "As the parliament and government that would come into being according to the SPDC Road Map were for realization of the 2008 Constitution, the meeting adopted the view that instead of resolving the problems faced by Burma, it would create more insecurity and conflicts, especially in the political and military fields."

According to SPDC's 2008 constitution, the incoming legislative body will convene its first session 90 days after the election to elect a president and two vice presidents and to form a new government.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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