(Mizzima) – The Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), one of the winning parties in the 1990 elections, has ruled out joining the poll fray unless the 2008 Constitution
is reviewed and amended.
Aye Thar Aung, Secretary of ALD told Mizzima that the 2008 Constitution, which was forcibly approved by the regime in May 2008, neglects the rights of ethnic nationalities as well as federal set-ups of the states and divisions of the country.
“There are no rights guaranteed for the States in the constitution. Moreover, the military will have its representation in both the National Parliament and State Assemblies. The Constitution also stipulates that the President will be from a military background and can nominate Chief Ministers of the States without following democratic norms,” he added.
The ALD won 11 seats in the 1990 elections while the main opposition party the National League for Democracy won 392 out of 485 parliamentary seats. The junta, however, deregistered the party in 1992.
Those opposing the Constitution at home and abroad have pointed out that the 2008 Constitution is legitimising the military’s role in politics by clauses such as 25 per cent of the parliamentary seats will be automatically for representatives of the military, the President of the country must be from a military background, the President can declare Emergency and can abolish the Parliament, the ministers for Defence, Home, Security and Border Areas have to be from the military.
“The 2008 Constitution will take Burma further away from democracy. If it is not amended, it is not possible for us to contest the elections,” he told Mizzima.
He also pointed out that it is almost impossible for the Constitution to be amended at a later stage beyond the wish of the Commander-in-chief of the military. According to the constitution, at least two thirds of the parliament will have to vote ‘yes’ for amending the constitution, whereas 25 per cent of the total parliamentary seats have already been given to the military.
Another political party that participated in the 1990 elections also said that it has not decided whether to contest the elections because the regime has not accepted any demand to review the 2008 constitution.
“We did not agree with the 2008 constitution in the first place. Now the law, the regime has promulgated says that the party that wants to contest in the elections will have to protect the constitution. What else can we say?” said Pu Chin Sain Thang, Chairman of the Zomi National Congress that won two seats in the 1990 elections.
However, a political group that is known to be close to the regime welcomed the electoral laws. It felt the elections would open up a chance for those who want to be involved in politics.
“The laws for formation of political parties and registration with the Election Commission are needed. With the laws being promulgated, it has opened up a chance for those who want to be in politics,” said Aye Lwin, Chairman of the 88 Generation Students and Youth (Union of Myanmar).
He added that his party will have a meeting of its central committee members tomorrow to discuss and decide the registration of the party.
Although the military government has announced the Election Commission Law, the Commission itself is not formed yet raising eye brows. According to the party registration law dated March 8, a party has to apply for registration with the Election Commission within 60 days from the time the law is promulgated. The junta is yet to announce the dates for elections.