ASIA/MYANMAR - Electoral victory of the National League for Democracy, which opens up to ethnic parties

Monday, 16 November 2020 human rights   politics   ethnic minorities   civil society   peace  

Yangon (Agenzia Fides) - After the electoral victory in Myanmar, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which received 396 seats in Parliament (six more than in 2015), opens to ethnic parties (i.e. representatives of ethnic minorities) to form a new national alliance government. As the winner of the first elections, which took place in Myanmar under a civilian government, the League received 258 seats in the lower house and 138 in the upper house and therefore has the majority with 322 seats in the two houses of parliament, which is necessary for the formation of the new government. However, the NLD does not intend to govern alone: not all ethnic parties have received enough votes to get a seat in Parliament, but with a gesture of democratic openness and broad consensus across the nation, the League opens to all 48 political organizations in the various States.
The League has received broad support for leader Aung San Suu Kyi, while the Burmese Army's Solidarity and Development Party (Usdp) now has 26 seats in the lower house and 7 in the upper house, for a total of 36 seats in the two houses of Parliament (with a loss of 8 seats compared to 2015). The Usdp had contested the preliminary results and requested a commission of inquiry under the aegis of the army. However, the request has not been followed: both because of the low number of votes after the final results announced on Sunday, November 15, but also because observers saw no valid reasons to request a cancellation of the election of 8 November.
The opening up to dialogue with ethnic parties does not foresee a confrontation with the Rohingya Muslim community, which have no political representation or citizenship rights, but paves the way for a strengthening of the peace process with the various armed factions and for the choice to make the Burmese Republican Union (the current state structure) a real Federation: this is a key step in ensuring that wars no longer cost human lives in the future. However, the Burmese army seems to be preparing for future cooperation with the government of the League and has announced that it will support a restart of the ongoing peace process with only ten armed groups and, as requested by the NLD, also include groups in the negotiations, who have not yet signed the ceasefire agreement, a requirement imposed by the military.
Many of the challenges remain open: the legacy of the military dictatorship and the 2008 Constitution guaranteed the Burmese army 25% of seats in parliament and in three ministries (Interior, Defense, Borders).
The military will therefore be able to oppose the changes requested by the League to amend the Constitution, as reform requires 75% of the vote in Parliament. A League-ethnic parties alliance could also positively affect the possibility of reaching an agreement on constitutional amendments. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 16/11/2020)