Hope on the Horizon?
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, February 07, 2023
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COVER STORY

Hope on the Horizon?


By ALEX ELLGEE / RANGOON OCTOBER, 2010 - VOL.18 NO.10


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There will even be two parties representing the Rohingya, a Muslim minority from northern Arakan State often described as one of the most persecuted groups in the world. Like others contesting the election in November, their expectations are modest, but they hope to at least improve conditions for the 2015 election.

In other areas, ethnic parties have a more urgent agenda. A representative of the Wa National Unity Party, for instance, said that the election could help defuse a potentially explosive situation in the Wa regions of northern and eastern Shan State, where there is a growing risk of a return to hostilities after two decades of relative peace under a cease-fire agreement between Wa rebels and the Burmese regime. “In parliament we hope to stop tensions between the Wa army and the government,” he said.

Similarly, in Karen State, the chairman of the Phalon Sawaw Democratic Party, Khin Maung Myint, said he believed the election could help end the conflict that has made the state one of the most dangerous and unstable places in the country. Speaking to domestic media, he said: “I think everyone in Kayin [Karen] State is hoping for peace.”

It is unclear, however, how any of these parties will achieve their stated goals, given the overwhelming influence that the military will retain after the election. The ministers for defense, home affairs and border affairs, for instance, will all be military personnel nominated by the commander in chief, while other key cabinet positions will be appointed solely by the president, who is predicted to be a leading general.

But this has not dampened the spirits of those who have made the bold move to participate in the election. While everyone recognizes that the vote will take place under conditions that are far from perfect, many remain hopeful that they are now laying the foundation for Burma’s future political system. As one politician put it, the election “has created a conversation between people who have not spoken for decades—and this has to be a good thing.” 



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