Burma’s Military Government Officially Dissolves; Remains Oppressive Says US
April 4, 2011
By: Randi Zung | Printer Friendly
On March 30, BBC News reported that Burmese state television announced the official dissolution of the country’s military government and the resignation of country leader Senior General Than Shwe, signaling Burma’s supposed return to a civilian-ruled democracy. The former military government – known as the State Peace and Development Council – seized power in 1988, and has since gained an international reputation as one of the world’s most authoritarian and repressive countries. The planned return to civilian rule was first announced in 2003, when then-Foreign Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt introduced the junta-drafted seven step “roadmap to democracy.” The “roadmap” outlined the military government’s plan to restore democracy in the country. The final two steps of the plan include convening a meeting of the newly elected parliamentarians, which took place in January 2011, and the rebuilding a new democratic state.
In response to the announcement, Voice of America reported that the United States (US) government dismissed the development as insignificant and stated that military leaders remain in control. The US Department of State said that it would continue to push for real democratic reforms in the country through engagement and continued sanctions. During a news briefing, Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner stated, “There was a fundamentally flawed election process that’s now ensured that key military regime figures have continued to dominate the government and all decision-making. The fact that they’ve taken off their uniforms and donned civilian clothes is immaterial. We remain deeply concerned about Burma’s repressive political environment.”
Despite the announcement, critics have decried the country’s new government as a “farce” and a “sham.” Many of the parliamentarians that were elected in the November 2010 parliamentary election were either retired military members or civilian junta-backed candidates. According to the country’s constitution, 25 percent of the parliament’s seats are reserved for the military.
The November 2010 election was the country’s first since 1990, when the National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide, but was prevented from taking power by the junta. The NLD declined to participate in the latest poll after newly implemented restrictive election laws banned party leader Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior party members from participating.
For previous news on Burma, please see:
Burma’s Military-Filled Parliament Convenes for First Time
BBC News - Burma transfer of power complete