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Myanmar

Yearbook 2010

Burma. Throughout the year, all attention was directed to the general elections promised by the military junta after pushing through a new constitution in 2008, which would make the country appear democratic. In March, a new electoral law was passed, according to which the military junta would hand-pick members of an electoral commission. The law also stipulated that punished persons may not be members of political parties. The wording was considered directly aimed at opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the last 20 years under house arrest. Election Law also prohibited members of religious orders from running for candidacy. This was intended to prevent Buddhist monks, the leaders of recent years' protests against the junta, from entering politics.

2010 Myanmar

According to COUNTRYAAH, about 20 ministers headed by Prime Minister Thein Sein left the military in April and formed the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which was the old junta-controlled "mass movement" USDA in new form. Aung San Suu Kyi's party National Democratic Alliance (NLD), which had decided to boycott the election, dissolved on orders by the junta in May because it had not registered. A number of members then left the party and decided to stand for election under the name National Democratic Force (NDF).

Since the new constitution already guaranteed the military 25 percent of parliamentary seats and "former" military formed a party with superior resources, the election results were in practice clearly in advance. Any opposition MPs would not have the opportunity to push through amendments to the constitution of the junta, since such changes require more than 75 percent majority. Most countries condemned the election; it was largely only the important trading partner China that urged the outside world to support the process in Burma.

Before the election, the junta announced that no foreign observers or reporters would be admitted. The days surrounding the election broke Internet traffic in Burma, which was first interpreted as a cyber attack similar to those that had previously hit Estonia and Georgia. However, judges rather believed that it was the junta itself that blocked the web to prevent Burmese bloggers and photographers from informing the outside world.

Shortly before the election, it was also announced that the country's official name was changed from Union Myanmar to Republic of Myanmar. Burma also received a new national anthem and a new flag: a large white star against a background of three horizontal fields in yellow, green and red.

Shortly after the election, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, according to information without special conditions. She was able to hold public speeches immediately and start consulting on the future with her party mates. She struck a conciliatory tone and declared herself ready for a dialogue with the government. Her youngest son Kim Aris also got an entry permit and was able to meet his mother for the first time in ten years.

During the election day, the opposition complained of gross cheating and pressure on voters. When the election results were announced, USDP was presented as superior victor in both parliament's chambers with over 75 percent of the vote. The junta-friendly National Unity Party (NUP), formed before the 1990 elections, and a party representing the Shan people became roughly equal. The NDF received eight seats in the lower house, the People's Assembly.

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