Concern is growing that Myanmar’s military will postpone upcoming elections that are seen as pivotal to the impoverished country’s opening and reforms that the United States, Australia and other Western countries praised in 2012.
Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has lashed out at what she calls the country’s “hardline regime” and says president Thein Sein is insincere about reforms and may try to delay the election.
“If he had been sincere about reform, then we would be much further ahead than we are,” Ms Suu Kyi told Reuters in the capital Naypyidaw.
Ms Suu Kyi, 70, stressed the importance of the election scheduled for November that her National League for Democracy would probably win, saying it is a “real test of whether we are on the route to democracy or not.”
Myanmar expert Bertil Lintner, who has written books on the country, believes there is only a 25 per cent chance the election will go ahead, saying the military never planned to relinquish power.
“Basically, I think the government has had a plan all along, they’ve created a certain political system, and that want Burma [Myanmar] to be that way,” Mr Lintner told the Democratic Voice of Burma, a media organisation run by Burmese expatriates.
“It’s not a process, it’s not going to go anywhere from here … unless of course the people press for more and they get someone to listen to their demands, but that doesn’t seem to be very likely right now,” he said.
Ms Suu Kyi questioned US praise of Myanmar’s government that saw both US president Barack Obama and former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visit the country to encourage reforms.
“I would ask whether it actually encourages them to do more or it simply makes them more complacent,” she said.
“The United States and the West in general are too optimistic and a bit of healthy scepticism would help everybody a great deal.”
Australia was also quick to praise the country’s generals after they pledged to end half a century and often-brutal rule, boosting aid to the country to more than $90 million.
Ms Suu Ky denied she had been outmanoeuvred by the military after spending 15 years under house arrest and then agreeing to become a member of parliament and opposition leader.
“We’ve always known that they would not give up their privileges easily,” she said.
“There’s a time when we have to stand up for our principles and there’s a time when one of the principles should be national reconciliation rather than digging up the past.”
Ms Suu Kyi said she has not given up hope of becoming Myanmar’s president despite that the military has refused amend the constitution that bars presidential candidates with a foreign spouse or children.
Her late husband was British, as are her two sons.
But she said hardliners in the government were “not interested in negotiations or in amending the constitution or taking seriously the will of the people”.
Ms Suu Kyi said her party was “ready to govern” but did not rule out the party boycotting the election if it goes ahead and she could not become president.
“We don’t think that boycotting the election is the best choice. But we are not ruling it out altogether,” she said.
“We are leaving our options open.”
The National League for Democracy boycotted a 2010 election, widely regarded as rigged, which installed Mr Thein Sein, a former general.
The party won the country’s last democratic election in 1990 by a landslide but the military nullified the result.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.