IN EXILE: Khun Myint.Moe Zaw says the late announcement of the regime's election laws leaves little to chance and gives the opposition no space to manoeuvre theircandidates into place or talk to the voters.One of the electoral laws, the Political Party Registration Law, allows the committee to reject party applications. It also bans democracy organisations,armed groups opposed to the regime, groups or individuals receiving foreign support and about 2,100 political prisoners from taking part in theelections. This includes Mrs Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as well as 430 jailed NLD members.At the time of their announcement the electoral laws drew strong criticism from Brad Adams, Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch."The new laws' assault on opposition groups is sadly predictable. It continues the sham political process that is aimed at creating the appearance ofcivilian rule with a military spine." The electoral laws also nullify the results of the 1990 election.David Mathieson, a Burma expert at Human Rights Watch, acknowledged that the regime's preparations for the election have been carefullyorchestrated. "The regime is leaving nothing to chance in their quest to guarantee they continue to keep power. They have cynically used theconstitution, the electoral laws, the trial and the jailing of Aung San Suu Kyi and the imprisonment of 2,100 political opponents to do so." Mr Mathiesonsays those who think the election is an opportunity to crack open an imperfect system are way off the mark."Anyone who believes it is going to be a new dawn after the election is deluding themselves."
CLIMATE OF FEAR
Khun Myint Tun, an exiled Burmese member of parliament, who in 1990 won the seat of Phaton in Mon State, says the 2010 elections are not the startof a transition to democracy, but rather another step in the regime's continuing consolidation of its authority."There is no freedom of association, no freedom of assembly and no freedom of speech."How can anyone claim these elections will be free and fair?"Khun Myint has personal experience of how far the regime is prepared to go to maintain its climate of fear and oppression over its political opponents."I was jailed for seven years and kept in solitary confinement for having a booklet about non-violent struggle in my possession. I was denied food andwater, and for five nights and days I was made to sit hooded on a stool while military intelligence officers interrogated me. My hood was only removedat meal times and for toilet breaks. I was not allowed to sleep."Khun Myint says it baffles him when international analysts and political pundits claim Burma is experiencing election fever."They are reading into it what's not there. Why not see the reality that is there, like the regime reserving 25% of seats for serving military officers _ that's 110 uncontested seats they will automatically get in the lower house."Under the constitution the president has to have military experience, and the military will control three key ministries; defence, home affairs and borderarea administration."Khun Myint says the international community is only looking at Burma in the short term and what natural resources can be exploited.