Present Form of Government in MyanmarCurrent form of government in Myanmar
The real problem with Myanmar
YANGON, Myanmar - The next parliamentary elections planned for the end of this year will not become the yardstick of democracy in Myanmar, as many Myanmar analysts had been hoping. Political leaders, still largely under the control of high-ranking militia officials, have neglected to reach an understanding on the distribution of powers either with the principal- or ethnically based oppositions.
This not only threatens the credibility of the elections, but also represents a serious management void within the regime and the opposition. In 2008, the constitution drawn up by the army was retained, and the new chairman, Thein Sein, was a high-ranking general. However, the new administration has been officially civilized and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the political party, has been able to return to politics:
Although this assisted in legitimizing the new regime, it also gave the opposition a place in parliament and proposed that Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi should finally be allowed to run for office as Mayor. Today this implicit comprehension looks as if it were a kind of co-optation. Both Thein Sein's and the army's government have sought not to loose since the failure of the governing Union Solidarity and Development Party (U.S.D.P.) in the 2012 elections - the N.L.D. won 43 of the 44 places it held.
In particular, the German authorities opposed the demand to change the 2008 constitution. A contentious provision prohibits any Myanmar resident with a non-Myanmar marriage partner or non-Myanmar child, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, from serving as Myanmar's country's president. A further series of regulations restricts the right of minority groups. Little headway has been made in amending these terms, in part due to various splits within the establishment: both between hardliners and self-appointed reformist democrats and among reformers.
Thein Sein's regime seemed for some considerable period of incessant pressure to reach a national ceasefire agreement with militarized communities that have been at war with the mainstream for over six centuries, calling for equality of power and a federation. Otherwise, the efforts themselves could bring some recognition to the regime, while the opposition's demands for comprehensive reforms are disappointed.
A number of large and heavily militarised communities and the authorities reached agreement on a text on 31 March, but the agreement has yet to be ratified. Whilst the Federal Council of United Nationalities, an association of nationalities, insists that all gunmen should be included, the army has declined to engage with the Kokang, whose rebels they have fought particularly tough.
But even when the army failed Thein Sein's ceasefire agreement effort, its parliamentary leaders urged a proposal to enact new legislation that would guarantee "power-sharing, resource-sharing and tax-sharing" for minorities' and self-governing territories. It was a move by the general to gain the support of the ethnical politics in parliament and collect points when the regime stumbles.
House spokesman Thura Shwe Mann - the junta's third strongest general, who was expecting to become the country's 2011 presidency - has mobilised the parliament to get Thein Sein to hold multi-party discussions on the constitution reforms in order to get her way and overturn Aung San Suu Kyi.
There was a summit last months with Thein Sein, Thura Shwe Mann, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and the military leader, among others, but no significant advances were made just to underline the various divisions within the institution. The amendment of the main clauses of the text, which includes the clauses on the suitability of candidate presidents, will require both a 75 per cent parliamentary vote and a mere 75 per cent vote in a country wide referenda.
This is a very high nightclub that can happen at any moment, but it would be a logistic dream to organise a referendum during the rainy period when even the highways in the big Myanmar towns are inundated. And, since the constitution allocates 25 per cent of parliamentary seat to the army, the general actually has the right of vote over any kind of constitution reforms.
He said that the Constitution, which gives the armed forces great privileges, should not be changed as long as it ensures the countries security. I have been informed by militarily-based sources that they believe that the Constitution will not be changed before the elections and that Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi has practically no opportunity to stand for the Chairmanship this year.
And even if she does not run for the presidency, the N.L.D. is still supposed to gain a majoritarian vote in parliament, which means that she could take a mighty stance with scrutiny of the legislative agendas and workings. According to Myanmar's nominal parliamentarian system, the presidency is not directly elect by the electorate, but through a complex parliament: it is a Parliament: the presidency is made up of two members:
Following the referendum, the new Members of Parliament shall choose the Speaker by a single ballot from three Vice-Presidential nominees, of whom two shall be appointed by the Parliament and the third by members of the armed forces. As it is unlikely that the governing U.S.D.P. will gain a minority in both homes, both Thein Sein and Thura Shwe Mann would need the support of the army to become presidents.
However, Thein Sein, once the protege of former leader Than Shwe, has fallen from grace: Colonels think he bowed to the West and was too weak towards ethnically based people. They are suspicious of Thura Shwe Mann, whom they accuse of approaching the rival.
Indeed, some N.L.D. insideers have proposed that Mrs. Aung Sang could support Suu Kyi Thura Shwe Mann as chairwoman to someone from her own group. She says she could hope that once Thura Shwe Mann is in office, she will implement the necessary reform to finally question her for the chairmanship - a dubious proposal that recalls her implied sympathy with Thein Sein, which is the major cause of the present stalemate.
It is better than risking the army refusing to reward the results, or a major clash over the overhaul. The dilemma only shows that it is not the next elections that should be seen as a yardstick for Myanmar's democratisation process. Ms. Zin is a member of the Foreign Policy Democracy Lab and works as an analyst for think-tank and NGOs such as Freedom House in Myanmar.