Burma seems to be on the brink of a fresh civil strife after it released controversial laws for the upcoming election. While the military regime wants to maintain its power via sham elections, the people, who long for genuine political change, are demanding genuine liberty, justice and equality. But the junta is in no mood to allow even some kind of basic civil rights, for instance freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, Burma's Prime Minister Thein Sein, who earlier this week quit his military post, has applied to form a new party ahead of controversial elections this year. Thein Sein will lead the Union Solidarity and Development Party, according to a regime official on condition of anonymity. Some other ministers are also involved in the party, including agriculture minister Htay Oo and industry minister Aung Thaung, the official said.
A spokesman for the NLD said the creation of the USDP was the testimony of the generals' challenge to continue in control of the elections and the country. He also added that the appointment of Thein Sein as the party head was in "clear violation of the Political Parties Registration Law which states that civil servants cannot take part in political parties".
Burma's State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) or the de facto military regime held a sham national convention from 1993 to 2007. Then it launched a deceptive referendum at gunpoint in May 2008, just a few days after Cyclone Nargis which perished over 140,000 lives and devastated the country in a large scale. However, the junta said its 2008 Constitution was approved by more than 90 per cent of the qualified voters in the referendum, which has been widely dismissed as a fraud. According to reliable inside sources, most voters were told that their ballots had been already cast by the local authorities.
The worst of the so-called Nargis Constitution is that it provides the blanket immunity to the members of the military junta for their past human rights violations. It also provides a special status for military to live above the law. The commander-in-chief can practice coup at any time reasoning national security.
However, to prevent the participation of essential political figures, the 2008 constitution bars the political prisoners including the key opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic leaders to contest in the polls.
The constitution also does not recognize the ethnic people's constant demand for a federal union guaranteeing self-determination and equal status.
The military regime has barred pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running in upcoming elections and forced her party to eject her under a new election law unveiled on March 10. This is causing serious political tumult in the military-ruled country. The Political Parties Registration Law, published in official newspapers, prohibits anyone convicted by a court of law from joining a political party and thereby disqualifies them as candidates. It also instructs parties to oust members who are "not in conformity with the qualifications to be members of a party," a clause that could force Suu Kyi's exclusion. Parties that do not register automatically come to an end, the law says.
Ignores international community calls to review 2008 constitution
The regime has ignored calls from the international community, especially from the UN, US and EU, to review the 2008 Constitution, which will not bring real changes to the Burmese citizens. People are convinced that, like the referendum held at gunpoint, the secret ballot will not be free, fair and inclusive. The junta may not be able to deal with the worsening socio-economic situation if it continues to turn down the national reconciliation process being urged by the opposition NLD, the United Nationalities Alliance and the Association of the Veteran Politicians. Without National Reconciliation settlement, Burma may not prevail over the current political and economic melancholy.
The remarkable withdrawal of the key opposition party-- the NLD -- from planned election this year has added to the awareness that the votes would bring no change to Burma's political surroundings, other than a magical show of the generals who aim changing into civilian clothes to maintain power. The withdrawal decision is in line with people's opinion that NLD must flex its muscles to confront the unreasonable laws forbidding the Lady from participating and call for her expulsion from the party.
At the same moment, the cease-fire armed ethnic groups constantly declined the Burmese regime's Border Guard Force (BGF) plan. The gloomy prospect of disagreement develops into visibility on the country's political sphere over again. Compliant with ethnic sources, most leaders of the cease-fire groups and their delegations were disobedient following their consultations with SPDC's negotiator, Lt-Gen Ye Myint, whose self-important manner and hostile remarks spoiled the respective negotiating talks where little amity had appeared. Moreover, SPDC's negotiator apparently pressured the ethnic leaders to sign up for the BGF plan by April 22. If they failed to accept the offer, they would be stated as unlawful organizations.
In contrast, the New Mon State Party is preparing to face a possible war with the Burmese troops, after its ceasefire troops rejected the junta's order to change NMSP into the Border Guard Force under SPDC's command. The junta had also pressured the NMSP to respond to its BGF bid on April 22. The NMSP rejected the offer to accept their BGF proposal. Then, the party has secured all documents from its communication offices and stopped their operations except the office in Moulmein, in preparation for a crackdown.
Tension between junta troops and Buddhist army
Besides, tension between Burmese junta troops and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) in Myawaddy Township on the Thai-Burma border has been swelling since the contradiction on border guard question. Worries over conflicts between the Burmese army and a DKBA unit have in the past two days caused an exodus of Karen refugees to Burma's border with Thailand. The DKBA has been split from KNU since 1995, and now it claims having 6,000 troops and aims to expand its militia up to 9,000, building it as Burma's second largest ethnic armed grouping.
Four junta representatives including Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Soe Win met an eight-member Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) team that included KIO Chairman Layauk Zauhara at Northern Command Headquarters for one and half hours on April 22. KIO reaffirmed its denial of the regime's offer to bring its troops under the command of the Burmese Army's Border Guard Force.
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