Myanmar is heading to the polls in November 2015, with an expected shift in power from the old elite to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). However it remains unclear whether the new political space created by the transition away from military rule will bring significant legislative power to ethnic nationality-based parties.
Although the elections were peaceful, significant conflict continued in parts of the Shan and Kachin states. The expectations on the new government are extraordinarily high and all of the challenges facing the country remain as difficult to address as ever.
Shan Herald - The briefing paper, which is 22 pages plus 6 more pages of endnotes, released by Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute (TNI) last month, has given us a convincing explanation of how the fight in Kokang which began on 9 February and is still ongoing started.
Shan Herald - Ethnic based parties are unlikely to sweep the 7 ethnic states, concludes Transnational Institute (TNI) briefing paper, entitled Ethnic Politics and the 2015 Elections in Myanmar, which was published yesterday.
The breakdown in the ceasefire of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) with the central government represents a major failure in national politics and threatens to escalate to serious humanitarian crisis if not immediately addressed.
"Opposition parties participating in the process view boycotting the elections as a strategic mistake. The only way forward for them is to play a better game of chess, making the best strategic use of the limited space available."
The people of Burma are at a critical juncture in their struggle for democracy and ethnic reform. Decisions taken by leading parties and protagonists in the months ahead could well define the direction of national politics for many years to come.
As 2012 progressed, perceptions of the real nature of change under the Thein Sein government were challenged by a series of disturbing events in which serious violence and mass displacement of civilians occurred in several parts of the country.
Ceasefires have been agreed; the NLD has elected representatives in the national legislatures; Western sanctions are being lifted; and the World Bank and other international agencies are returning to set up office in the country. Such developments are likely to have a defining impact on ethnic politics, which remains one of the central challenges facing the country today.
Burma is in the midst of its most important period of political transition in over two decades. TNI and BCN hosted a conference to look at the challenges and opportunities in five key areas: politics, ethnic relations, the economy, social and humanitarian affairs, and the international landscape.
As the government meets to design a “roadmap” for developing the new national land law, TNI looks at how the situation has changed since the development of the National Land Use policy a few years ago and reflects on the issues at stake for millions of people across the country with rights to land in the current context.
Rakhine State, historically known as Arakan, represents the post-colonial failures of Myanmar in microcosm: ethnic conflict, political impasse, militarisation, economic neglect and the marginalisation of local peoples. During the past decade, many of these challenges have gathered a new intensity, accentuating a Buddhist-Muslim divide and resulting in one of the greatest refugee crises in the modern world. A land of undoubted human and natural resource potential, Rakhine State has become one of the poorest territories in the country today.