Is Burma a Democratic CountryAre Burma a democratic country?
Myanmar is still on the rocky road to democratisation
As the democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi won her historical, landslide-like elections in Burma (Myanmar), she was filled with rising hopes, but also with the enormous challenge of violence, a sputtering industry and the considerable pressures of a common power with a still mighty war. We are still walking towards the door of democracies in Burma, but we are not yet democracies," said Zaw Myint Maung, Prime Minster of the Mandalay region.
Burma's risk of still slipping from its imperfect transitions is dramatised by the ongoing Rakhine state war, the violent situation in the north-eastern states of Kachin and Shan, and the subdued but still-present voices of ultra-nationalist Buddhist friars. During a recent trip to Burma, I stressed to our mission that Aung San Suu Kyi needs to hear, get involved and talk more.
There is a hunger to listen to her voices and to better grasp her visions for the world. In spite of disappointment, she is still the unique character who is able to mobilise and inspirit their population. Following decade-long conflicts between the army and 21 large ethnically based groups, the former administration began a promising peacemaking operation.
By 2015, these efforts had resulted in eight armoured groups signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement. This, together with the continuing confrontations in the north-east that are crowding out ten thousand individuals, is undermining the incentives for the rest of the armed groups to register. Aung San Suu Kyi's greater individual commitment seems essential to revitalize and develop this peacemaking act, a point underlined by a fruitful 3 March gathering with members of non-ceasefire-members.
Aung San Suu Kyi would be a mighty next move if she visited areas that suffer the most from the greatest force, especially in the states of Kachin and Shan, because after all her administration must gain the support of the peoples of these states - not only their military rulers. Burma's most challenging situation could be the deep-seated war in Rakhine, Burma's impoverished and least advanced state bordering Bangladesh.
There the Muslim Rohingya and the Buddhist Rakhine communities, themselves a marginalised minorities, have struggled for country, natural resource and the right of the Rohingyas to be regarded as Myanmar people. Following the October 2016 attack on Rakhine's frontier police, attributable to Rohingya rebels, the Myanmar Army carried out missions that have resulted in reporting, also from UN agents, that police used racial harassment and cruelty against the Rohingya.
Aung San Suu Kyi has kept quiet about the accused's attempts at war. Mr Aung San Su Kyi had taken laudable measures to tackle this dispute. However, without a trustworthy sovereign investigation, Aung San Suu Kyi, the armed forces and Burma as a whole will carry the stigma of these accusations.
Aung San Suu Kyi has clearly lost important chances in the Burmese conflicts' in recent month in a complicated, historical-puzzler. Only Aung San Suu Kyi, as we have often said during our visits, has the build to mobilise and inspirite the kind of tranquillity her people need. However, it cannot exercise the Burmese military's immediate power.
Burma's history has been in straightforward, coercive news for decades: the woman against the regime; repressed minority groups against the regime; saffron-clad Buddhist friars against the regime. Burma's mission will demand a major transition of the country's politics, securities and economy - a job that will take years, if not a year.
The recent trip to Burma underlines the importance of strong US backing for the assistance of Aung San Suu Kyi and the other reformists - civil and military people - who are working for peace and better government. It was a virtues of America's recent efforts in diplomacy and aid to Burma that it was exceptionally well co-ordinated, which is vital for its maintenance.
Burma's reforms stay resolute. Aung San Suu Kyi's administration still provides the United States with an important window of opportunity for consolidating its achievements to date and supporting a smooth, albeit long and complex, democratic process.