Burmese Election: Its All Over Bar The Voting

The military rulers of Burma have reportedly claimed they have ‘won’ the country’s first national elections for 20 years – three days before voters go to the polls.

Dictator Than Shwe was yesterday said to have been assured that his junta will have a majority in Burma’s new parliament.

His Union of Solidarity and Development Party has already ‘secured’ 30 per cent of the vote.

Victory: Myanmar’s military ruler General Than Shwe will remain in power after the election, even though polls are not yet open
When added to the 25 per cent of seats which the junta will retain for military officers, the country’s iron-fisted regime will maintain control of the parliament.

The Irrawaddy magazine, an opposition-backed publication, based across the border in Chiang Mai, Thailand, made the claim.

Foreign journalists have been banned from entering Burma for the election but pro-democracy activists have sent up ways in which news can be leaked out of Burma.  While the result of the election is a foregone conclusion, most of the interest is concentrated on the military junta and their attempts to control the news. Already the internet has been slowed down in Burma.

Under the constitution, laws can only be passed in Burma with a majority of at least 75 per cent of parliament. In affect the junta can already block every move it does not like.

But if the opposition can get 25 per cent of the vote, an unlikely scenario, they could veto legislation by a block vote.

The advance votes cast so far, says the Irrawaddy, come from soldiers, civil servants, prisoners, hospital patients, and people living outside the country.

In the last election in 1990 Aung San Suu Gyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide victory which was ignored by the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the time since under house arrest in Rangoon.

‘Than Shwe wants to overturn the NLD’s 1990 election results, when they won over 80 per cent of the constituencies,’ said Win Min, a Burmese political and military researcher told Irrawaddy.

‘So he wants 84 or 85 per cent of the seats in each of the parliaments.

‘But unless they use false votes, this will be quite difficult for the USDP.’

The USDP which claims it has 16 to 18 million of Burma’s 29 million voters is noted for its thuggish tactics.

Groups of workers in such places as factories have been warned that voting others could mean a loss of jobs.

Others have been threatened with ‘relocation’ by the Burmese Tatmadaw – or army – unless they voted USDP.

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About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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