Tuesday 15 April 2008

Referendum not a final solution

(Editorial): Mizzima


April 11, 2008 - Despite both the ruling junta and the pro-democracy opposition trying to get their own way in the ensuing referendum on the draft constitution by getting the people to cast the 'Yes' and 'No' vote respectively, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel. There will be political stalemate after the referendum amid changes in the political spectrum in one form or another.

The military regime is openly campaigning among the people to vote 'Yes' for the draft constitution as the fourth step of it's so-called seven-point Road Map to democracy. It took 14 years to finish drafting the constitution, which ensures a role for the military or Tatmadaw to control power by hiding behind the constitution. The constitution is designed to install new faces of civilians from among the men in green for some sectors but, mostly they would be puppet civilians controlled by the military hierarchy.

A month before the referendum those into campaigning for casting 'No' votes are still being sent to jail, almost every day, by the Burmese regime. The opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest and the military has even denied her the right to contest the 2010 general elections if its constitution is supported by a majority of the voters. The local authorities are threatening the ordinary villagers saying those voting "No" could face punishments although the junta publicly promises to ensure secret voting. The regime is creating "a climate of fear" before the referendum which has been prolonged for almost two decades since the new brand of military officers took over power from the former dictator.

The International community is hesitant to endorse one of the most repressive regime's moves. The United Nation which has been rejected, had called for broader and inclusive or "genuine dialogue" for political transition to democratization. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should be allowed to speak freely and hold political meetings, the draft statement of the UN Security Council stated. Even, the regime's rare friend India called on the junta to turn back to the UN led dialogue table which was sought to solve the imbroglio after 31 peaceful protesters lost their lives in the bloody crackdown on Buddhist monk-led demonstrations.

On the other hand, the main opposition political party the National League for Democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has urged the public to "bravely vote 'No'. So has almost every opposition group including an influential group, the 88 Generation Students amid debates of "Boycott the referendum or vote No" in the initial stages.

The media in exile and the regime's propaganda machinery is busy with referendum related coverage. The daily newspapers in Burmese, controlled by the junta say "If you do not want a puppet government controlled by the foreigners, vote 'Yes'".

The regime has chosen its own Road Map to avoid dialogue and the main supporter is China as usual. However, even if the opposition has been kicked out from participating in drawing up the constitution won by 'Yes' votes under such an environment, there would be very few new countries to recognize and endorse it as democratic reform.

Similarly, there would be no significant changes if the constitution is rejected by the voters. The regime has never mentioned a word on this scenario. The ball is still in their court and it would choose to return to the "buying time method".

The opposition and the international community should not lack preparation for real and immediate pressure on the regime to come to the dialogue table. Without pressure, the regime will not move a single inch. The building of political institutions is never too late and it should be on track while understandably rejecting the regime's one-sided approach.

No comments :