mandag 1. mars 2021

Stark realities face Myanmar’s battle for democracy

Last month’s military coup in Myanmar was a rude awakening for the international community. Headlines celebrating the “dawning of a New Democratic Era” when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party took power soon gave way to calls to revoke her Nobel Peace Prize over her deafening silence on the genocide of Rohingya Muslims. While the spotlight was firmly fixed on Suu Kyi, the military lurked in the shadows, and a democratic Myanmar remained an illusion.

The international jubilation following the NLD’s electoral romp in 2015 was not tempered by reality. Though the party won the country’s first open general election since 1990, the exercise in democracy gave way to hybrid rule, a fragile sharing of power between the civilian sector and the military.

The 2008 constitution crafted by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, meant any civilian-led government would be heavily shackled. It reserved one-quarter of parliamentary seats for military officers – with 75% of votes needed to overturn constitutional amendments – and handed the Tatmadaw control over the Home, Defense, and Border Affairs ministries. It left the NLD subject to the military’s effective veto power in parliament and without any control over Myanmar’s security apparatus.