The way forward in Myanmar
The strong result at the last parliamentary election could boost the former political prisoner and Nobel prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi’s possibilities of being elected President of Myanmar. Thus, this fully depends on the goodwill of the ruling military junta.
Under the recent election in Myanmar Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, secured 79 percent support, and will control 59 percent of the seats in the upcoming parliament. This election is considered a major improvement for the democratic processes in Myanmar.
The NLD did a good election already back in 1990, but the military junta chose to annul the result. After this, the military general Than Shwe ruled the country on behalf of the military junta for two decades. In 2010, the first multiparty election in 20 years was held. That year the NLD boycotted the elections as they considered the circumstances surrounding the election as undemocratic. If the process of transition of government from the military junta to the elected representatives goes smoothly, this will be a milestone in the country as the last 55 years has been a cavalcade of non-democratically elected leaders. From 1960 to 1990, the elections were not held, and at the first multi-party elections in 1990 Suu Kyi’s party won 59 percent of the vote. Despite the outcome of the elections the military choose not to recognize the election and continued to rule the nation with an iron fist. Many members of the opposition were exiled, and various forms of opposing groups emerged arouse. A well-known example is the act of rebellion led by Buddhist monks in 2007 and ethnic minorities like Shan and Rohingya that ended with bloody struggle.
The election in November demonstrated, as previously mentioned, Aung San Suu Kyi and NLDs popularity in Myanmar. Despite the outcome of the election, the military junta will still have a central position. Representatives from the army still take up 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives, due to the constitution where a certain quota is stipulated for them.
In addition the military have a veto over constitutional amendments. The constitution established by the military junta prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from taking the post as President, as Paragraph 59 F states that a person married to a foreign citizen or have children with foreign passports. The question now is whether the military junta is willing to cooperate on changing the constitution giving Aung San Suu Kyi the opportunity of becoming the new president.
It remains to see how NLD will chose to govern when they take over government, assumed to happen in March this year. This time around the takeover might be a positive outcome.
Although there is still a long way until Myanmar can be called a full-fledged democracy, some important steps has been taken. The new starting point might show us a new beginning in Myanmar.