‘Elections Neither Free Nor Fair,’ Says Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi cited repeated incidences of intimidation on the campaign trail. (Photo: Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said that Sunday’s by-elections will be neither free nor fair because of widespread irregularities, but vowed to continue her candidacy to press forward with reform.

The Nobel laureate said opposition candidates had suffered stone-throwing incidents and other intimidation that hampered their campaigning in the run-up to the weekend poll.

The ballot is considered a crucial test of Burma’s commitment to democratic reforms and may well herald the end to punitive economic sanctions imposed by Western nations.

The 66-year-old told a press conference that the irregularities go “beyond what is acceptable for democratic elections.”

“I don’t think we can consider it genuinely free and fair if we consider what has been going on for the last couple months,” she said. “We’ve had to face many irregularities.”

When asked how far she would go to dispute the result, Suu Kyi said she would wait and see.

“We will have to see how the polling goes .. if the will of the people is represented,” she said. “We will have to see if these irregularities affect the result.”

Suu Kyi said there were attempts to injure candidates and cited two cases in which stones or other objects were thrown at members of her opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), even causing one of the party’s security guards to be hospitalized.

There were “many, many cases of intimidation” and vandalism of party campaign posters. She blamed some of the acts on “people in official positions.”

Despite the irregularities, Suu Kyi said that the party is “determined to go forward because we think that is what our people want.”

The by-elections are likely to mark a symbolic turning point by bringing Suu Kyi into Parliament for the first time, an event that would raise hopes for a more representative government after half-a-century of repressive military rule.

The by-elections will fill 45 vacant seats in Burma’s 664-seat Union Parliament.

A victory by Suu Kyi and her opposition NLD would do little to alter the balance of power in Parliament but would give her a voice in government for the first time.

Asked how she wanted to aid the nation, she replied, “in a way to help all the ethnic nationalities to live peacefully and happily with one another.

“I don’t need an official position but if it makes my work more effective then why not. We have very unreasonable expectations!—we want to win as many constituencies as possible.”

And Suu Kyi vowed to make reconciliation in Burma a priority should she win a parliamentary seat.

“We have differences of opinion within the government … but we have faced many challenges over the years and we will face many more. I feel we can have a voice within Parliament even if we win about 44 seats.”

And Suu Kyi said she was overwhelmed with the strength of support she encountered on the campaign trail.

“Lots of people approached me during the campaign but particularly children jumping up and down and shouting for the NLD,” she said.

“I’m not going to visit all the polling stations [in Kawhmu Township where she is standing] but I would like to visit some of them—I do not want to [have] a disruptive effect.

And Suu Kyi said that there were few countries which have had such a chequered history as Burma with respect of prolonged conflict and related abuses.

“We are confident that we too can achieve reconciliation despite our record of violence and violation of human rights,” she said.

When asked if she believed that Burma could learn from the South African model of reform, she was positive.

“Certainly we would like to learn from as many countries as possible,” she said. “We would like to study all different patterns of reconciliation and see what we can gain from experiences elsewhere.

“We haven’t even really started our process of reconciliation officially. We are very interested in how other countries went about it and negotiated settlements.”

When asked whether she would want the perpetrators of human rights abuses to face trial, Suu Kyi quoted Arch-Bishop Desmond Tu-Tu, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, in that, “what we believe in is not retributive justice but restorative justice.”

Suu Kyi denied that she has had discussions with the government of China regarding democracy, but said that the by-elections were positive for the entire region.

“It’s a step towards step one towards democracy,” she said. “For the Asean community it’s an opportunity to assess if real reforms have taken place or might be taking place in the near future.

“Democracy in this country will be a victory for our people. Once we get into Parliament we will be able to start building towards democratization.”


9 Responses to ‘Elections Neither Free Nor Fair,’ Says Suu Kyi

  1. People expect the NLD to win the land-slide victory in the by-election. When Daw Aung Sann Suu Kyi becomes the parliament member, the heat of excitement amoung the ordinary people will definitely run high and the hard evidence will be he mood, welcoming moods of the majority parliamentarians in the house. I can imagine the authority of Aunty Suu in full effect in Burma parliament. I can dream the repealing of all unjust law, civil laws with establishment of rule of law which will bring Burma to real democracy.
    If the changes were not allowed by the ruling junta, the hell will break loose. Burma will be on fire.

  2. It is a known fact that starting from by-election campaign many obstruction and chanllenges has to face by NLD and democratic forces.
    USDP party’s thugs are planned to create destruction and even possible criminal act, that is why throwing stone to NLD security guards.
    Many irregularities in electoral lists in various polling station areas such as dead peoples names are appearing in the list, double and tripple names appearing in various township polling station. Anyway one thing is good there are international observers during election day. This election is neither fair and free which is hundred percent correct, as soon international medeias will say about Burma’s by election.

  3. As the saying goes; better late than never!

    I am very much delighted that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, “Democracy in this country will be a victory for our people. Once we get into Parliament we will be able to start building towards democratization.”
    That is what we like to expect our leaders to be convinced of and should do whatever they could.

    As Churchill once said that “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms.” Please remember that the Supreme Court of the country appointed the President of the United States not very long ago. That much messy democracy is even in the country which always patronizes other countries regarding democracy. People also can hear a lot from those “cowards” who fled the country and now scream as loud as they can as patriots.

    I was intimately involved in the attempts to have dialogues between her and the military regime in 1994 and she made a big mistake listening to subversive elements at that time. But, better late than never.

  4. I support Oo Maung Gyi’s comment 100%.

  5. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says she’s willing to accept an “official position” if offered. Quote: “I don’t need an official position but if it makes my work more effective then why not…”

    Does that mean she’s willing to take up a ministerial position, I wonder.

    Daw Suu would certainly make a great Opposition leader in parliament, giving the generals-turned-politicians the fight of their lives, but is she willing to work under them and take orders from the president?

    Just a thought.

    • Hardy
      If ming aung hlaing’s post is replaced/won by DASSK, she should accept this post at once now and then. Other posts in bama military is nothing and is rubbish so see powerless puppet thein sien as a president of Burma. Do not confuse what DASSK means from her words for how to help the ordinary Burmese people from what kind of post she wants. DASSK might mean ming aung hlaing’s post. Without abolishing the nargic 2008 constitution and without having military power from you or DASSK, your any intimate effort to helping DASSK is fruitless in the past(1994) or now because fox dares to kill Buddhist monks and our hero, DASSK any time and any reason. You might forget 2007 saffron (killing monks by fox) and Dayapin incidence (trying to kill DASSK by fox). All bama military do not and did not honour panglong agreement in the history. They make use of obama for relieving sanctions for their tempo and their own interest. Those thugs have no sincere to make positive change. You should learn where those thugs come/origin from and their psychopath personalities. They are low born and low class so how you can tame those thugs (animals) with your diplomatic ways, western ways. Those thugs can be only tamed by Chinese or Russian communist ways. Now, it is time for DASSK to make the best deal with China. Obama is busy and his parliament is very slow to act, compared to communist China.

  6. More Sanctions for No Free and Transparent Elections

    Dear Ms Clinton, US Secretary of State, The European Union, Mr Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Prime Minister of Japan, The President of South Korea and The Secretary General of Asean,

    It would easy to lift sanctions progressively but it would be more than 1000 times harder to impose, implement and enforce sanctions on Burma if sanctions are lifted.

    The Lady is already telling that the whole election process is fraud with full of irregularities everywhere and there is no honesty and sincerity in the highly questionable reform overdrive by the Burmese government.

    Consider lifting sanctions carefully and wisely.

  7. I have just read another article on the same topic by the AFP news agency.

    The article, titled “Suu Kyi says poll will not be fair” and published by The Bangkok Post on March 31, 2012, said:

    “Experts believe the regime wants the pro-democracy leader to win a seat in a parliament dominated by the army and its political allies to burnish its reform credentials and encourage an end to Western sanctions.

    But Suu Kyi said that she had no plan to accept a position as minister in the army-backed government if offered a role because under the constitution she would be required to give up her seat in parliament.

    “I have no intention of leaving the parliament to which I have tried so hard to get into,” she said.”

    Rather confusing, isn’t it?

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