What will be the next move of Burma’s President Thein Sein?By Zin Linn Apr 02, 2011 11:22PM UTC
Most people in Burma understand very well the ‘Thein Sein government’. According to some ordinary citizens, this incoming regime is similar to a snake which changed its outfit pretending to be representation of the people via last year’s sham polls.
The regime’s attempt to rename itself with a nominally civilian government was met with skepticism at home and abroad because of following the 2008 Constitution drawn by the military. Many critics fear that the Army’s power has merely shifted behind the curtain.
The country’s strongman Than Shwe also handed over his position as head of the Army during the power transfer, but many analysts firmly believe “Senior-General” will find a way to hold on to power behind the political stage.
In an unusual inaugural address, published in The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, Thein Sein insisted that his government had been elected and offered a mandate by the Burmese people.
He even invited and urged some sovereign states to see democracy flourish and the economy grow in societies of Burma. He also asked to cooperate with his new government in favor of democracy.
The country’s former Prime Minister Thein Sein, a key Than Shwe collaborator, is among a selection of generals who threw away their military uniforms to race in the sham elections and are now members of parliament. His junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won 388 of the national legislature’s 493 seats, while a quarter of the legislative body was already reserved for military legislators.
Larry Jagan, a Bangkok-based Burma specialist, said in his article in Bangkok Post on March 31 that Than Shwe will not be completely handing over power – he will certainly still try to manage things from behind the scenes.
Jagan wrote: “In recent weeks there has been widespread speculation that U Than Shwe intended to set up a State Supreme Council – which according to some military sources in Naypyidaw is intended to be the top body in government – with allegedly the role of advising the new civilian government. The eight-member council reportedly includes U Than Shwe, Gen Maung Aye – until last week vice senior general and officially number two in the regime – speaker of the lower house [Pyithu Hluttaw] Thura Shwe Mann, President Thein Sein, the speaker of the upper house former Gen Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, former Lt Gen Tin Aye and two other senior military generals.”
“There is no doubt that this would be an influential body at the top of the government structure, although it would in fact be unconstitutional,” Larry also said.
But the United States expressed concern over the country’s oppressive political atmosphere that neglected the popularity of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Moreover, four US senators urged the United States in a letter to turn down calls to ease sanctions on members of the Burmese junta and instead name a special envoy to give the measures more bite.
“With the regime’s recent moves and persistent human rights abuses, conditions do not currently exist to meet the necessary criteria to consider an easing of sanctions,” senators wrote to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The group urged Mrs. Clinton to name a ‘Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma’ to work with Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) ‘to ensure that sanctions are more effective and better utilized’.
At the same time, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has been calling for the meaningful dialogue with Thein Sein Government as it is the party’s longtime policy toward national reconciliation.
“As the NLD mainly works for national reconciliation, we expect to start a dialogue with the new government,” said NLD spokesman Nyan Win.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Burma to provide evidence “that this change is one of substance”.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday urged the new civilian government in Myanmar (Burma) to release political prisoners during phone conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi.
People are now eagerly watching the next move of ‘Thein Sein government’ whether it will free over 2,000 political prisoners or not. Besides, it also needs to recognize the existence of the NLD as one of the key stake-holders struggling for peace and reconstruction of the unfortunate country.