Myanmar’s electoral process had a dramatic, if shaky, start when President Thein Sein — with the support of the military — forcibly ousted parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann from the leadership of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, and moved his own loyal officials into place. While the president took a back seat during that tense evening at USDP headquarters in mid-August, the move sent a strong signal that military leaders intended to retain control of the pace and direction of democratic change — and were unhappy about the ambitious speaker’s challenges to their authority. The president and his military commander say they remain committed to holding a free and fair election. That should not be surprising.
International approval of the election outcome is crucial to the country’s future. It may explain why Shwe Mann — an ex-general turned reformer who has openly courted Myanmar’s democratic icon, Aung San Suu Kyi — has been permitted to retain his seat in the legislature and his influential role as parliamentary speaker. He remains a potent political force, as seen in the defeat of a subsequent parliamentary bill that would have enabled his impeachment for failing to consult adequately on his legislative moves. Faced with serious internal rivalries, Myanmar’s leaders clearly realize they can only go so far if they are to keep the elections on track and retain support of the international community.
Previous elections in Myanmar have drawn criticism — even widespread condemnation, as in the aftermath of the annulled 1990 poll. Many expect the Nov. 8, 2015, elections to be more transparent and better run. The big question is whether they will be sufficiently fair and transparent for the world to endorse the outcome.
Full Article: The mechanics of the elections- Nikkei Asian Review.