Holding of elections in Myanmar (earlier called Burma) and defeat of the Army controlled party in the elections are significant political developments in our neighbouring country Myanmar. These elections resulted in the massive victory of NLD (National League for Democracy). Even in the earlier election held in 1990 after massive struggle of the people, the NLD had won a resounding victory. However, Military rulers of Myanmar had refused to transfer power to civilian leadership.
These elections were held after the Army had amended the Constitution and allotted one fourth of the seats to nominees of the armed forces in both chambers of Parliament. Moreover, many other restrictions on the rights of elected representatives have been built into the Constitution.
This election and the victory of the NLD also mark a compromise between NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and military rulers. This outcome of the longstanding struggle of the people of Myanmar for democracy is to safeguard against struggles of different nationalities and different sections of the people over a long period of time. At best this is a reformist outcome of these struggles.
Myanmar has seen rise in the violence against Rohingya Muslims, a minority inhabiting south western region of Myanmar. It is noteworthy that NLD leader Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to condemn these killings and prosecution of the minority. She has also not taken a stand against Army’s suppression of minority nationalities.
Deepening economic crisis has forced the Army leadership to share power with civilian leadership to forestall people’s movements targeting it. Further army rulers were forced to look to western imperialist countries for investments and markets for natural resources. These powers had demanded holding of elections and sharing power with civilian leadership.
This change in power equation between army and civilian leadership also reflects the growing contradictions between imperialist powers, particularly USA and China. Army leadership has been close to China and China in turn supported Army rule over Myanmar. These relations were developed after restoration of capitalism in China when China started cooperating with Myanmar military rulers against the armed movements in that country, particularly those led by revolutionary communists. Western imperialists on the other hand engaged with Army rulers as well as demanded transition to civilian rule. Change in Myanmar after elections in Srilanka mark a certain setback to Chinese interests in the region.
While this election marks a certain advance in the struggle of the people for democratic rights it also places a new situation before the masses struggling for their economic and political rights as well as before the struggles of minority nationalities. While it is expected to mark some expansion in the democratic rights of the people of Myanmar, it may also see desertion of civilian leaders from the camp of the people fighting for democratic rights. People’s struggles will decide the future course.