Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Without constitution amendment elections cannot herald change: NLD

by Mungpi
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 18:12

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Unless Burma’s military regime releases political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and amends the 2008 constitution, the 2010 general elections will be meaningless and will not usher in any kind of change, the National League for Democracy has said.

The 2010 general election, proposed by the ruling junta, is based on the 2008 constitution, which enshrines the role of the military. It cannot provide an opportunity for change unless the regime considers reviewing the constitution, Dr. Win Naing, a spokesperson for the NLD said.

“The 2010 elections cannot be an opportunity for change in Burma unless the junta reviews and amends the constitution,” he said.

It has been 20 years now, and the junta is aware that it cannot continue ruling the country in an illegitimate manner. Since the junta is not prepared to make any kind of drastic reforms, it drafted the constitution to legitimize its role, he added.

Dr. Win Naing’s remarks came in response to the recent report released by the International Crisis Group, which urged all stake holders in Burmese politics to prepare to seize an opportunity of change that is likely to be a fall out of the 2010 elections.

The ICG in its report released on Thursday said the 2010 election is an opportunity for change and urged the international community, the Burmese opposition including the NLD, the military government and other stake holders not to squander the opportunity.

“All stakeholders should be alert to opportunities that may arise to push the new government towards reform and reconciliation,” the report, titled “Myanmar: Towards the Elections”, said.

The report also argues that boycotting or opposing the election would only push things into the hands of the military as it would not prevent the elections from taking place.

But Dr. Win Naing said if the elections take place without any consideration for the opposition’s demands, it would only produce a result that is predictable – continued military rule – and the only difference this time would be “a legitimized military rule”.

“We don’t see it as an opportunity. The conditions before the elections are important and if nothing changes and if the junta goes ahead with its plans, it is predictable,” he added.

But he did not criticize the ICG report stating, “It is their view and we appreciate it for expressing such ideas. It does not matter whether we agree with it or not.”

But functioning within a rigidly controlled environment, Dr. Win Naing said, people living in Burma understand the military’s mentality and need to assess the situation before taking any decision.

“As we have mentioned in our ‘Shwegondine Declaration’ if the ruling government does not implement our proposals, we would be forced to re-think how we should go about the 2010 election,” he added.

On August 11, the NLD’s general secretary Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to a further 18 months in detention, which is widely believed by observers as a move to keep her away from the 2010 election scenario.

Similarly, members of the NLD in Rangoon have been harassed and tortured for their political activities.

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