Burma’s electoral laws undemocratic: Indian experts

(Mizzima ) – Indian constitutional experts and election observers have said that Burma’s electoral laws that the junta has started announcing since March 8 through the state controlled media do not follow democratic norms.

The laws promulgated by the Burmese government for the elections in 2010, goes against democratic norms and it will not pave the way for democracy.

Subash Kashyap, a constitution expert and former Secretary General in the Indian Parliament said: “what is going on in Burma is really a serious matter.  What the junta is doing over the last two decades is totally against democratic laws”.

Election laws announced by the junta have barred pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from being a member of a party, from forming a party or  contesting  the elections. The new law states that anyone serving a prison term cannot be a member of a political party. Aung San Suu Kyi is presently under 18 months house arrest. She was convicted for flouting the terms of her house arrest in August last year after an uninvited American man John Yettaw swam to her house and stayed there for two days.

“It is wrong to keep the opposition leader under house arrest. She must be freed to contest elections. Under democratic laws every individual has the right to contest elections. There can be no election if there is no opposition party,” Sanjay Kumar at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in New Delhi told Mizzima.

Sabya Sachi, a professor and an election observer in Kolkata told Mizzima, “If such laws are made then there will never be peace and democracy in the country.”

“Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi must be set free and should be allowed to campaign. She must be allowed to speak in public, free to meet people and must be allowed to hear public demands,” he added.

The junta is implementing its ‘Seven Points Road Map to Democracy’ with the fifth step being the elections this year, after 20 years. In 1990 Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept to victory but was refused power.

The 2010 elections laws also bar the over 2100 political prisoners to take part in the elections. It reserves 25 per cent of parliamentary seats for the country’s military.

“Unless and until Aung San Suu Kyi is released, there will not be free and fair elections, said Subash Kashyap.

The 64-year-old Suu Kyi has been in detention for the last 20 years. The new law also gives the NLD just 60 days from March 8 to register as a party if it wants to take part in the elections. With the new laws, NLD will either have to expel its leader Suu Kyi and more than 400 members of the party, who are in jails or face de-registration.

Human rights groups have condemned the junta’s electoral laws as “designed to exclude the main opposition party and ensure a victory for the ruling military”.

“The new law’s assault on opposition parties is sadly predictable,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. “It continues the sham political process that is aimed at creating the appearance of civilian rule with a military spine.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has made a statement in New York that the laws “so far suggest that they do not measure up to the international community’s expectations of what is needed for an inclusive political process.”

He has called on the Burmese government to ensure a fair, transparent and credible elections and allow Aung San Suu Kyi to freely participate in the polls.


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