Coup Is Possible if Regime Party Doesn't Win
The Irrawaddy (Online Commentary)
August 11 , 2010
It will be hard to maintain high expectations and optimism about Burma's election while the international community becomes ever more skeptical about its credibility and frustration grows over the regime's intransigence.
Alberto Romulo, foreign secretary of the Philippines, said the Burmese election would be considered a sham if opposition members were not allowed to participate in the process.
“All the parties should be there and not only should be there but they should be allowed to campaign and their votes should be counted. You know what democracy is all about,” Romulo said.
The United States, a vocal critic of the regime, and the European Union, have also voiced doubts about the credibility of the elections in Burma. Their doubts are fully justified.
|Aung Zaw is founder and editor of the Irrawaddy magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.|
Now United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his frustration at the regime's intransigence. “It is a source of frustration...that Myanmar [Burma] has been unresponsive so far to [the UN's] efforts. A lack of cooperation at this critical moment represents nothing less than a lost opportunity for Myanmar [Burma].”
Many may share his frustration, but political activists and opposition members have no illusions. They don't see the election producing any significant landscape change. Optimism is in short supply because of the regime's pre-election maneuvering.
It's generally believed that the election will only serve to legitimize military rule and that by hook or by crook the regime will manipulate the election process to produce a parliament of military appointed civilians and former generals.
The regime will not allow any opposition party to win the election.
Phyo Min Thein, who recently resigned his post as chairman of the Union Democracy Party because he felt the election would not be free and fair, in a recent interview with The Irrawaddy, cited Deputy Education Minister Aung Myo Min telling teachers at the University of Foreign Languages that if the pro-regime Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) failed to win the election, a coup would be staged.
In early 2010, Col Zaw Min, minister for electric power no.1 reportedly told his shocked staff: “We are a ready-made government...soon after the election, we will continue to remain in power and proceed to govern the country.”
Zaw Min's remark should be instructive for some international analysts and self-appointed experts who condescendingly say the election will change the political landscape in Burma.
So far, more than 40 political parties have registered with the Union Election Commission. The pro-regime USDP is the largest and naturally enjoys government support.
The USDP is led by Burma's current prime minister Thein Sein, who faithfully served under Snr Gen Than Shwe since their War Office ိေdays in the late 1990s. It can campaign without encountering any obstacle, even though no election date has yet been set.
In an evident campaign strategy, the USDP recently repaired roads in Rangoon, donated rice to villagers in central Burma, offered loans and mobile phones at below-market rates, mainly in central Burma and Arakan State.
The “ready-made government” is clearly ready to take over power in a new form. But if it fails with its plan, a military coup could be on the cards.