Myanmar - Election 2010
On 07 November 2010, the military junta that ruled the country of Burma held an election that was universally labeled as a sham due to widespread irregularity and lack of participation by opposition parties. This exercise was at least a well-choreographed maneuver by the ruling elites to transform themselves into a more internationally acceptable civilian dictatorship. Despite this attempt at political gymnastics, the repression in Burma continues and thousands of political prisoners remain locked in jail. The one ray of hope to emerge from this engineered process was the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Burma's revolutionary hero Aung Sun, and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Since the election, a distinct point of view emerged from some Burma experts arguing that, no matter how fraudulent, the elections represent an important shift in domestic Burmese politics. As the argument goes, this shift might lead to real changes in the future, even if nothing significant occurs immediately. Furthermore, it is claimed that the existing opposition party, the National League of Democracy, is incapable of grasping this opportunity because the group and its leader, Ms. Suu Kyi, have an all or nothing approach. This is what is characterized as the pragmatic engagement theory.
Since the Obama administration began its policy of pragmatic engagement in 2009, U.S. relations with Burma had not changed. If proponents of pragmatic engagement were correct, then Burmese leaders should recognize this unprecedented opportunity being offered by the Obama administration and seek to improve relations with the US by demonstrating tangible change. Expectations are high again among diplomats that some elements in the new government are reform-minded and that they deserve to be given more time.
The Parliamentary elections held in November 2010, considered flawed by many in the international community, saw the junta's Union Solidarity and Development Party garnering over 75% of the seats. Parliament convened in January 2011 and on 04 February 2011 selected former Prime Minister THEIN SEIN as president. The newly convened parliament of the Union of Myanmar announced the election of U Thein Sein as president and of Thiha Thura U Tin Aung Myint Oo and Dr Sai Mauk Kham as vice presidents. The vast majority of national-level appointees named by THEIN SEIN, who had been head of government and Prime Minister since 24 October 2007, are former or current military officers.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar emerged as a new democratic nation in accordance with the Constitution approved by the overwhelming majority of the people. Multiparty democracy general elections were held in Myanmar in November 2010 in line with the Seven-Step Road Map. Thirty seven political parties including 19 parties from different national races contested in the elections. Elected representatives are exercising their democratic rights in the legislative bodies.
In his statements the new President outlined measures that the new government was going to implement to achieve good governance, clean government, flourishing democracy, fundamental rights of the citizens, rule of law, transparency, accountability, fight corruption, reducing income disparity, creating harmonious society, economic reform and environment conservation. The President also set guidelines to the Ministries, and all civil servants for the implementation of his work plan.
The President in his inaugural speech to the first regular session of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on 30th March 2011, stated that all elected Hluttaw members, including the President are all duty-bound to honour and safeguard the constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The new Government pledged that all citizens shall enjoy equal rights in terms of law and is determined to reinforced the judicial power. The government also assured the nation to amend and revoke existing laws and adopt new laws as may deem necessary to implement the provisions of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
To satisfy the public aspirations, the new government said that it was pursuing tasks for ensuring good governance, clean government, democratic practices, fundamental rights of citizens, the rule of law, transparency, undertakings, reducing the gab between the rich and the poor, setting up a harmonious society, economic reforms, and environmental conservation. The first Pyidaungsu Hluttaw second regular session was held at Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Hall of Hluttaw Building in Nay Pyi Taw on 22 August 2011, with a speech delivered by President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein.
In his address, the President said, "Our government is the government of the people. So, we have to give the first priority to the public interest. We are giving educative talks, reminding and taking action in order that all of us become good public servants who win public satisfaction, trust and reliance. In this transitional period, we are working hard for transition to new system. So, we will take punitive action against those sticking to procedures and red tape system, and those without a sense of democratic spirit but with partiality. The executive power of the Union government shall reside in the whole Union". Being an elected one, the government puts public interests to the fore. Therefore, the people are urged to do their bit in the tasks for building a peaceful, modern developed nation.
The President invited people to work together for the interest of the nation despite differences. Accordingly he received Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 19 August 2011 and had cordial and candid discussions to find out potential common grounds to cooperate in the interest of the nation and the people, putting aside different views.
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