This Briefing Paper discusses how rather than this election being an improvement on the last, it will be less free and fair. More people will be disenfranchised in this election than the last, and those disenfranchised are almost all from ethnic and religious minorities.
The greatest shadow over the credibility of the election is the continued banning of Rohingya people being allowed to vote, and the astonishing silence of the international community over this issue.
Key points from the briefing:
- Under Burma’s military drafted 2008 constitution, it is impossible for elections to be free and fair.
- Even within the constraints of the constitution, the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi has engaged in activities which will make this election less free and fair than the last one.
- This is an apartheid election, with most Rohingya banned from voting.
- International donors, including the UK, ignored a UN recommendation to review support for the election if Rohingya were excluded, and provided support to the racist government body, the Union Election Commission.
- Aung San Suu Kyi remains constitutionally barred from the Presidency, although she has circumvented this ban through the State Counsellor position.
- Ethnic and religious minorities will suffer most from disenfranchisement and marginalisation in the election.
- In light of the military’s refusal to agree changes to the 2008 constitution, and the undemocratic actions and human rights violations by the civilian NLD-led government, the international community needs to reassess its assumption that Burma is undergoing a transition to democracy, and change its approach accordingly.
- The NLD will likely win the election but with a reduced majority. Key to watch will be the percentage of vote going to the military party, the USDP, which in 2015 received almost 30% of the vote.