Myanmar elections this weekend

Updated On: Nov 04, 2010

Myanmar will hold a controversial, closely watched national election - its first in two decades on November 7.

The country is divided on what the vote means.

Some see it as a way for the regime to solidify its power and confer a sheen of legality to a government that ignored the results of the last vote 20 years ago. This idea is supported by the fact that the two main civilian parties are reported to be proxies for the military. The current Myanmar's constitution also already requires more than 100 military nominees in parliament, around a quarter of all seats. Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party has made the agonising decision not to participate - and is in the process of disbanding. 

Other residents, self-described pragmatists, see the elections as a small opening that could eventually bring in a new dynamic and lead to genuine reform. There will be a new parliament, and it is widely believed that at least a few opponents of the regime will win seats. It is also possible that some of the country's seniormost generals will retire, opening the door for new leaders more open to reforms.

Democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has said she will not vote in the elections. Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 20 years under house arrest. Her party won a landslide election victory in 1990, but the military junta rejected the results.

Sources and In-depth Analysis;

A look back: Key events in Myanmar's history [CNN, 4 November 2010]

Myanmar's Muted Election [The Wall Street Journal, 2 Nov 2010]

Myanmar's Elections Offer Glimmer of Change [Council on Foreign Relations, 2 November 2010]

Expecting the worst, yet still hoping for something
 [Bangkok Post, 4 November 2010]

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