After the Burmese regime announced the election date on 7th November 2010, political debate increased greatly, both inside and outside Burma.
The junta has pushed its agenda, even though many opposition groups have been very critical of the election process. Some critics said Burma’s 2010 election will be unfair, but some politicians see it as a rare opportunity to participate in the electoral process, because it has been 20 years since the last election.
The regime declared its new election laws on March 8th, 2010. Political parties had to register with the Union Election Commission, and request permission to run. Currently, there are (47) political parties registered. The UEC only approved (42) to contest the election. But, the commission has since dissolved (5) parties, leaving (37) approved parties and over 80 individual candidates. There will be over 35,000 polling stations in nationwide.
Some political parties have met the requirement to submit party membership lists and name their candidates. However, other parties have said they are struggling to raise funds and meet the necessary requirements in the short time remaining before the election.
Many ethnic politicians see this election as a rare opportunity to campaign for ethnic rights and democracy, therefore, they formed new parties to run in the election. Some ethnic armed groups transformed into the junta controlled Border Guard Force (BGF).
The international community and leaders of democratic countries have called on the Burmese regime to allow full participation by the opposition, including all political prisoners and the NLD party, in the election process.
Many countries have demanded the release of Burma’s democratic icon, and noble laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and her full participation in the election.
However, the National League for Democracy party already announced it is boycotting the election. The military government has answered strong criticism by the international community and the Burmese opposition that the election process is unfair, by defending the election as the 5th step of their seven point Roadmap for Democracy in Burma.
In stark contrast to the international community’s criticisms, China has showed its support for the election process and the junta’s agenda to solidify its control of the country through implementation of the 2008 constitution.
Whether the election is free and fair or not, it is a certainty. However, many Burmese citizens are being deprived of accurate information which they can use to make an informed decision about how to vote or weather to participate at all. Therefore, BNI would like to fill the gap with concrete information and help Burmese voters tell the world about their expectations and experiences during the election process and the vote itself, especially those inside Burma.