Myanmar is set for its elections on November 8, the first openly contested elections in 25 years. The National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, had last contested the election in 1990s. The military had then disregarded popular opinion and kept the party leader under house arrest for 15 years. She then proceeded to win a parliament seat in 2012 under government reforms and is now set to contest the same election again, this time with more power.
Ms Suu Kyi became constitutionally ineligible for the seat of the president when she married a foreigner. But that does not prevent her from insisting that she will lead the government if her party wins the elections. “I’ve made it quite clear that if the NLD wins elections and we form a government, I’m going to be the leader of that government whether or not I’m the president,” she said in an interview with India Today TV.
The NLD is quite popular but not without flaws. It can be argued that who holds the parliament seat is moot as long as the Ma Ba Tha Monks continue to hold sway in political decisions. The Ma Ba Tha monks hold no legal status as politicians but have considerable influence in the nation’s policies. Only recently they have succeeded in passing new laws regarding family planning restrictions on citizens. The monks have considerable clout when it comes to the leaders of the nation. The NLD has been particularly wary of their anti-Muslim sentiment and has not named any Muslim candidate for the election.
“If we choose Muslim candidates, Ma Ba Tha points their fingers at us so we have to avoid it,” said Win Htein, an NLD representative to UCA News.
The wait to the elections is long and the final balance of powers will only emerge when the election is won and the president is selected