Network Myanmar Mon, 05 Oct 2015 03:49:05 +0000 en-gb An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
Permanent Mission of Myanmar at the UN - 2 October 2015

In a passage on internal affairs, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin made the following points:

24. Myanmar is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country where freedom of
religion is guaranteed in its State Constitution. Buildings of different faiths are
standing side by side across the country where different communities share same
25. The situation in Rakhine State has changed. The government has managed not
only to prevent any new violence but also started to promote culture of peace through
Interfaith Dialogue and talks among communities and their leaders. Peace and
stability has been restored.
26. As I speak, more than 20 different aid organizations are providing
humanitarian and other assistance in Rakhine State. We thank the regional and
international partners for their kind assistance to humanitarian, resettlement,
reintegration and development needs. 

Sebastian Strangio: The Globe - October 2015

By any account next month’s election in Myanmar will be historic. It will be the country’s first free national ballot since 1990 and the first in which opposition figures, led by the living symbol Aung San Suu Kyi, will be vying in a general election against the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

It will also be the largest election in Myanmar’s history: a complex, kaleidoscopic race that will see 93 parties and 6,189 candidates contest 1,171 constituencies in national and regional parliaments. When Myanmar’s voters go to the polls on November 8, the world will truly be watching.

While the 2015 election will indeed be an important marker on the twisting road out of military rule, the ultimate destination remains far from a foregone conclusion. Indeed, rather than determining one way or the other the success of Myanmar’s so-called democratic “transition” – a word suggesting a natural, even inevitable, process – the poll is likely to give way to a new phase of fragility, contingency and political gymnastics. Read more....

Wirathu endorses ruling party in elections, raps opposition - Reuters

Myanmar’s firebrand Buddhist monk Wirathu has openly endorsed President Thein Sein’s ruling party in the Nov. 8 general election, saying Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party was “full of themselves” and unlikely to win the vote. Hardline monks will push for laws banning Muslim dress and other Muslim customs, Wirathu said Sunday before a rally held by thousands of members of the radical Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha.

“If we have to choose the best, it is the President Thein Sein’s government,” Wirathu added. “They could open the doors and work step by step for peace and development.” Asked about Wirathu’s remarks, a senior NLD member, Win Htein, said, “He should go to hell ... According to the teachings of Buddha, monks shouldn’t get involved in political affairs. They should be neutral.”

Myanmar Ethnic Peace Process: Two Important Studies
Burma News International - August 2015
During the year under review, Myanmar’s peace process veered in one direction and then another, swayed by fresh outbreaks of fighting. A commitment to peace by all parties to the conflict and a willingness to compromise would help towards a negotiated settlement. If the two sides can narrow down their demands to the essentials likely to prevent large scale military offensives, they can then move on to discuss political and military issues of a more prickly nature which must be resolved if peace is to be enduring. Both sides have matured during the seventeen months of negotiations necessary to agree a so-called “final draft” of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. However, the draft drawn up conjointly by the Government and Ethnic Armed Organizations drafting teams has yet to be ratified by the assent of the policy-makers of the organizations concerned.
International Crisis Group Asia Briefing No. 146 - 16 September 2015
After more than six decades of internal armed conflict, the next four weeks could be decisive for Myanmar’s peace process. The process, which was launched in August 2011, enjoyed significant initial success, as bilateral ceasefires were agreed with more than a dozen ethnic armed groups. But signing a nationwide ceasefire and proceeding to the political dialogue phase has been much more difficult. Four years on, with campaigning for the November elections already underway, a deal remains elusive. It is unclear whether a breakthrough can be achieved before the elections. Outside pressure will not be productive, but the progress to date needs to be locked in, and public international commitments to support the integrity of the process and stand with the groups that sign can now be of critical importance.
The Economist - 3 October 2015

The election is not about policy differences among the parties. The USDP stands for army-backed continuity. The ethnic parties stand for the interests of their own communities. And though the NLD has made some feints towards policy - taking stands in favour of sustainable development, good governance, reducing inequality and other platitudes - it is chiefly a vehicle for the cult of Ms Suu Kyi.

The cult is enforced with discipline. Among other things, NLD candidates are banned from talking to journalists. One candidate from the Mandalay region, in the middle of the country, conveys no policy message to voters and makes no personal appeals. “Don’t think about anything,” he tells them. “Just look for this symbol,” he said, pointing to a badge on his lapel depicting the NLD’s fighting peacock beneath a star against a red background, “and tick the box.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: UN News Centre - 29 September 2015
The upcoming elections represent a milestone in Myanmar’s transition to democracy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, adding that their credibility will depend on acceptance of its outcome among the political leaders and the broader population.

“It is crucial that these proceed in a fair, inclusive and transparent atmosphere. This responsibility rests with the Government, the Union Election Commission and the Army, but also all sections of Myanmar society,” he said at a meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, held on the margins of the high-level segment of the United Nations General Assembly. "I am deeply disappointed by this effective disenfranchisement of the Rohingya and other minority communities. Barring incumbent Rohingya parliamentarians from standing for re-election is particularly egregious."

Myanmar Times - 28 September 2015
Leaders of some 20 ethnic armed groups from Myanmar are due to meet in Chiang Mai today amid divisions over whether to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement with the government.
Pu Zing Cung, general secretary of the Chin National Front and a member of the groups’ negotiating team, told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the focus of the talks, due to conclude on September 30, would be the issue of three allied armed groups involved in fighting in Shan State which the government wants to exclude from the accord.
President U Thein Sein stressed the urgency of signing a ceasefire agreement before the November 8 elections when he met ethnic negotiators in Nay Pyi Taw on September 9. The meeting was inconclusive and officials set the armed groups a deadline of October 3 to decide whether they intended to ink the accord, leaving open the possibility that only some factions would join the government in signing....

Pu Zing Cung said the ethnic groups wanted all factions to sign, including the three blackballed by the government – the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the ethnic Chinese rebels of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) fighting in the Kokang border area.

Derek Tonkin writes: The prospects for an NCA at some time during October 2015 do not look encouraging. An NCA would provide a tremendous boost to the election prospects of the governing USDP and it is unlikely that most ethnic parties would welcome this. Contrary to most analyses, I do not myself believe that all that much would be lost by deferring a signature until the new government is formed in February/March 2016, after the elections. An NCA then might be built on a more solid basis.

This would not be inconsistent with the view expressed in the 'Readout" of the 29 September meeting of the UNSG's partnership group on Myanmar which noted: "In regard to the peace process, though key differences still remain, Member States welcomed the perseverance shown by all sides in their effort to stabilise a nationwide ceasefire, build trust and move towards the start of a meaningful political dialogue. All stakeholders were urged to remain actively involved in the next stage of negotiations." This would not suggest that partnership members are in any sense holding their breath in expectation.

Myanmar Times - 28 September 2015

In a statement, the US-based Carter Center has questioned the legitimacy of the candidate scrutiny process that scrubbed more than 100 election hopefuls from the final list. Though the Union Election Commission reinstated 11 Muslim nominees just before the Carter Center released its findings on September 25, 99 candidates continue to be barred from the polls, largely due to the alleged citizenship status of their parents.

“Although the number of disqualified candidates is relatively small, restrictive requirements, selective enforcement, and a lack of procedural safeguards call into question the credibility of the process,” the report stated. Read more.....


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