Myanmar NLD of Suu Kyi has an overwhelming Victory: Time for Reconciliation
It is now official. Defying all predictions, the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Suu Kyi has swept the polls with 258 and 138 in the Lower and Upper Houses respectively, thus exceeding its own performance in the 2015 elections (390). In all it has won 920 seats that include the Lower and Upper Houses, the State and Regional Parliaments and in Ethnic Affairs ministers.
The Army Proxy, the USDP came as a poor second with 26 in the Lower House, 7 in the Upper House and a meagre 38 in all the State and Regional parliaments put together thus totalling 71.
Instead of accusing the Union Election Commission and calling for re-elections, the Leaders of the USDP as well as the top- Army Officers should reflect and realise why they have been summarily rejected by the electorate.
The other parties which showed an overall double digit would include the Shan National Party (42), The Arakan National Party ( 15), the Pang (Palaung) National Party (12), the Mon Union Party (11) and the Pao National Organization (11).
Final results showed that in all 5639 candidates contested from 87 political parties.
The Union Election Commission rejected the call of the USDP to hold another election and declared that the Election was held successfully and that more Parties are satisfied with the outcome. The estimated turnout was fairly high with 70 percent despite the pandemic. Perhaps the Army Chief’‘s threat on 2nd and 3rd November in quick succession helped in getting more people rushing to vote for democracy! .
The Army Chief perhaps had to swallow his threats after witnessing the enthusiasm of the people and declared on the day of elections that he will accept the election result that reflects the People’s wish. More on this later.
Just 4 days after the Elections when it was fairly known that the NLD would make an impressive showing, the Party made an overture to all the 48 Ethnic Parties to join them in building a democratic Federal Union.
A NLD Spokesman said that together they could work effectively for ending the civil War.
Dr. Myo Nyunt of the NLD said that the Party had made the “Political Offer” as the first move after the elections and he hoped that the ethnic Parties would respond to the NLD.
The NLD’s Face Book account listed 25 ethnic entities that included Kachin, Karen, Shan, Rakhine, Mon, Kayak, Lahu, Ta’ang,Kaman, Khani, Mio, Dainet, Tai Leng, Chin, Danu, Zomi, Kokang, Dawei, Pao, AkRa, Zo, Naga, Kaya, Lisu,, Wa &Inu. This was mentioned along with a letter titled “For Future Union Affairs”- signed by the Vice Chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung.
It is good that Suu Kyi has made the first move after a sweeping victory in the elections. For long, in her first term she went out of the way to make up with the Army but in the end she should have realised that the Army had remained as stubborn as ever and would not concede even an inch in supporting any reform that would dilute their hold on the Country. All the amendments moved by the NLD for Constitutional Reforms were turned down by the Army which has a strangle hold on the country with 25 percent unelected representation in the House and keeping the important portfolios like Defence, Home and Border Management to themselves.
No entity gives up power voluntarily. Late Prime Minister U Nu did it in fifties and paid the price as Gen. Ne Win having tasted power took the earliest opportunity to stage the coup that proved disastrous to the people and the country for decades!
Suu Kyi did outwit the Army by creating a new post of Counsellor and thus headed the Government but beyond that she could nothing to whittle down the powers of the Army. She took care not to provoke the Army and yet never allowed the National Security Council Meeting that had the Army in a majority, to be convened! She did not authorise extra funds for the War with the Arakan Army and for once she stood up to the Army,
The Armed Ethnic Organisations never asked for complete secession but wanted more autonomy which the new Government could think “out of the box” for asolution to their mutual satisfaction. The elephant in the room is China that holds the key for peace and stability in northern region bordering China where the Armed Ethnic Groups are armed and supported by China. Visitors to Pangshang say that the Wa territory that has the biggest and is the most well armed Unit get the feeling that they are still in China and not Myanmar!
The NLD may have to review the War with the Arakan Army that is not going well for the Government. Three of the NLD candidates who were canvassing for the NLD are still in the custody of the Arakan Army. While the Army has its own agenda in dealing with the ethnics, the Government for no reason has clubbed both ARSA and the AA as terrorist outfits though ideologically both are totally different!
It is suspected that the overwhelming votes for Suu Kyi were because of the threats of the Army Chief that they would not accept the results of the elections. On 3rd November five days before the elections, the Army Chief openly accused of the Government of making “unacceptable” mistakes and that the military as the guardians of the country was watching the elections preparations closely.
A day earlier he openly accused the Election Commission of “widespread violations of the laws and the procedures of the pre voting process”.
Suu Kyi responded quickly and in the face book on 2nd November, called for calm and urged the voters not to be intimidated. Perhaps this turned the tide, it is said.
Next to reconciliation, perhaps Suu Kyi could think of encouraging younger members of her own party as well as those students who are now with 88 groups and who have sacrificed their future for the sake of democracy need to be included. But for those younger elements who had triggered the revolution, Myanmar could not have reached even this far. At the time of revolution Suu Kyi was in Myanmar by accident.
The economy needs attention too. With its key geo strategic location, abundant natural resources and a younger population, the prospects are good. More investments are needed and this in turn needs peace. To keep the predatory China at bay is itself a major problem!
The economic indicators/forecasts made by the World’s Leading Economists are encouraging. Economic growth from 2015 to 2019 has been steady but not spectacular. Per capita income has only marginally increased from 1219 to 1305 US $ in the past five years. Fiscal Deficit is under control, but exports have hardly picked up. Reserves continue to be around 5.5 Billion which is not much. What is lacking are investments to keep the economy going.
Suu Kyi was born on 19 June 1945. Time is short and there is need to encourage and build a younger group to take over in due course.
For a while, some foreign observers had commented that Suu Kyi’s iconic impact on Myanmar is fading. The current election proved to be other wise. But it is time to look for an inclusive approach.
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan