Sitting on the side of the road sipping tea with the leadership of a street committee in urban Sittwe, we first heard a powerful message about Myanmar’s democracy.
Success can breed a form of contempt that makes some national leaders act as if most common people, as well as all their political opponents, are several rungs below them on the evolutionary scale.
In assessing the outcome of the Burma Socialist Programme Party’s stewardship of the nation and the economic consequences of the Burmese Way to Socialism, Dr Maung Maung – the last president of the country under the regime – made the following observations.
With tens of millions of ballots cast and countless futures pondered, it has all come to this. Myanmar is forced to watch and wait as the National League for Democracy manoeuvres itself closer to power.
Myanmar is about to have a woman leading the country for the first time in the Union’s history. Not as president – the generals have seen to that, for the moment at least – but, as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has made clear with steely determination, she will be “leader of the government”.
Myanmar’s people have decided they want change. The reds, the National League for Democracy (NLD), have repudiated the greens, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), in a historic election that was largely peaceful.
With the National League for Democracy likely to form the next government in Myanmar, is there finally an end in sight for conflict that has plagued the country since independence? Probably not. The NLD may have the will to bring peace, but even in government, it won’t have the constitutional power to do so.