A reformed Burma in the making?
Written by Sai WansaiThursday, 24 November 2011 19:36
This breaching of contract, from the part of the successive Burman-dominated governments – starting from U Nu, General Ne Win, and General Than Shwe to the present ex-general, andPresident Thein Sein - is the main reason for the ongoing armed conflict continuing to thesedays. And so, it is expected that the similar Panglong conference to be called by Thein Seingovernment would again have to deal with the issue of democracy, equality and rights ofself-determination, which would mean that the military-drawn, 2008 Constitution has to be eitherdrastically amended or rewrite a new one. For the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burman opposition camps, democracy and equalitywithin the mould of unitary system could perhaps cover all their need satisfaction and thus, quiteacceptable. But for the non-Burman ethnic nationalities, without the rights of self-determinationor security to protect their ethnic identities and their birthright sovereignty, it is impossible to fulfiltheir aspirations. To put it differently, democracy and rights of self-determination are two sidesof the same coin for them and have to be tackled together, not separately. In a letter to NLD, dated 15 November, Shan Nationalities league for Democracy (SNLD),regarding the re-registration of NLD party, writes: “We would also like to point out thatdemocracy alone will not bring internal peace. For the ethnic peoples, the Right of SelfDetermination and Equality are especially vital. Without achieving them, genuine internal peacecannot be established.” According to SHAN, in response to this, Aung San Suu Kyi has said to promise to fight fordemocracy and ethnic rights, both at the same time, during the meeting with United NationalitiesAlliance (UNA) leaders last Tuesday, 15 November.Against this backdrop, the peace process initiated by Thein Sein would have to deal with thecore problem of democratisation and resolving the ethnic conflicts, which have been going onfor decades, if long lasting solution is to be achieved. The answer boils down to on how the politics of accommodation is going to be played out bycontending parties.For now, it seems the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi have been effectively pacified for agreeing tore-register the party and poised to enter the forthcoming by-elections, although this is also seenas a Burman political alliance between Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein, leaving out thenon-Burman ethnic groups to fend for themselves, from some critical quarters.
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