Myanmar`s election may hold a few surprises

Seldom has an election raised so few expectations as Myanmar`s upcoming polls in Myanmar Nov 7, the first elections in the country in 20 years.

Updated: Nov 02, 2010, 12:41 PM IST

Yangon: Seldom has an election raised so few expectations as Myanmar`s upcoming polls in Myanmar Nov 7, the first elections in the country in 20 years.

The outcome of last election May 27, 1990 surprised the country`s ruling generals and fostered great expectations that democracy was afoot in the politically benighted land.

Myanmar`s military masters have spent the past two decades squashing those expectations and making sure there are no surprises this time round.

"It is clear that a repeat of the 1990 democratic landslide is statistically impossible," said Richard Horsey, a former liaison officer of the International Labour Organization in Yangon, who now works for the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum.

The 1990 polls were won by the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest at the time. The party won 392 of the 447 contested seats, compared with the pro-military National United Party`s 10.

The junta blocked the NLD from power and has kept Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 of the past 20 years.
She will most likely remain so Nov 7, although she may be released Nov 13, when her latest 18-month sentence is due to expire.

The NLD is boycotting the polls and urging its followers not to vote.
There are approximately 30 million eligible voters in Myanmar, out of a population of 50.5 million.

"This election is just for establishing a mechanism of military administration. That`s why we urge `no vote`," NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.

IANS