AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 67

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Session 67: Roundtable: The 2010 Myanmar /Burma Elections: Developments and Implications

Organizer: Tin M. M. Than, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Discussants: R. H. Taylor, Independent Scholar, United Kingdom; Yin Hlaing Kyaw, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

The ruling military junta in Myanmar/Burma known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is slated to hold elections in 2010. It had adopted a new Constitution (2008), formed an election commission and enacted party registration law, electoral laws/rules. Elections for the house of representatives, house of nationalities and regional parliaments will be held simultaneously. The National League for Democracy (NLD) which won the 1990 elections (but denied power) refused to participate. Nearly 40 political parties had successfully registered by the end of July. They are competing against the military’s proxy party led by the incumbent prime minister. Meanwhile, the NLD leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest and virtually barred from standing in the elections. Most dissidents and democracy advocates have either denounced the elections as a sham exercise to perpetuate military rule and do not expect it to be free and fair.. However, China and India as well as fellow members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) welcomed the elections while urging the regime to ensure it to be free and fair. It is not a power sharing exercise but some are hoping that it will bring about more political space and freer economic environment through pluralism and legal constraints on the military’s absolute power. This panel expects to provide commentary based on first-hand accounts of the elections and delineate developments in the immediate post-elections period. Discussions are expected to also cover implications for much-needed economic reforms, civil-military relations, civil society development and international relations.