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Archive for December 18th, 2008

Junta-backed USDA unlikely to contest 2010 election

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by Mizzima News

Thursday, 18 December 2008 21:02

New Delhi (Mizzima) – In contrast to what many observers expected, Burma’s military junta plans to abolish its proxy organization – Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) – opting not to transform it into a political party for the purpose of participating in the upcoming 2010 election, sources close to the military said.

Owing to a poor public perception of the organization, particularly after its role in cracking down on peaceful demonstrators during the monk-led protests last year, the head of the military junta and the main patron of the organization, Senior General Than Shwe, has decided to scratch his original plan of making use of the USDA as a political party – a source said.

“The USDA will not exist in 2009,” said a source in Naypyitaw, adding that members of the junta’s proxy will instead be incorporated into political parties with different names.

“The USDA has such a bad image…and a criminal record internationally…they will not use that name… they decided at this meeting,” he added, referring to the last quarterly meeting held in November.

Echoing a similar view, Burma affairs specialist Larry Jagan, a freelance journalist based in Bangkok, said the USDA is unlikely to be transformed into any political party to contest the upcoming 2010 elections.

“According to my sources, the USDA itself will not become a political party,” said Jagan. But he added that at least three parties are likely to be formed under an umbrella of the discredited USDA and will make use of the former organization’s funding.

However, Jagan added, “But there is a lot of speculation and none of us know for sure.”

The original social organization, with several million members as claimed by the military government, has been a principle tool in attacking protesters and dissidents over recent years.

Further, the organization has established relationships with China and Vietnam through exchanging official visits.

The USDA was initiated on November 15, 1993, by the military regime. According to an official announcement in 2007, the USDA had 24 million members, mostly government servants. However, many of its members admit they enrolled in the organization in fear of any repercussions associated with denying orders from superiors.

An observer in Burma’s former capital, who closely monitors the situation, said, “There is no news about the USDA in state owned newspapers and no USDA uniforms are seen in Yangon [Rangoon].”

The source in Naypyitaw explained that the regime is keen on forming regional political parties rather than a single, nationwide political party.

“All they [junta] want is the National League for Democracy and The Lady [Aung San Suu Kyi] out,” the source emphasized.

According to Jagan, despite the junta’s claim that it will conduct the 2010 general election freely and fairly, it is unlikely that the junta will allow detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to contest the poll, as they see her as a major threat to their determination to win the election. However, it is possible that her party, the NLD, without her, might be allowed to take part.

“But it does not necessarily mean that it [the election] would be free and fair, and that they [NLD] would be able to run unhindered,” Jagan further elaborated.

The NLD, meanwhile, said they have not decided on whether to participate in the 2010 election and are still in the process of discussing the situation and brainstorming ideas, after which they intend to deliver a clear statement on whether they will join the proceedings or remain on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, some respected intellectual civilians, some of whom have been accused of being apologists for the junta by the mainstream opposition, are preparing to take part in the election. And the regime itself is looking for locally respected dignitaries, such as retired teachers, to partake in the election, sources said.

Similarly, a source in the military establishment said at least nine ministers and two mayors, including Rangoon Mayor Brigadier General Aung Thein Lin, will soon resign from their current positions in preparation to contest in the general election, the military junta’s fifth step of its roadmap to democracy.

Meanwhile, a report on Wednesday by Khitpyaing, a Burmese news agency based in Bangkok, reported that three army commanders have been promoted to the level of minister, but were not assigned to any ministry.

The report argues that the promotion of the Mandalay-based commander of central command, Major General Tin Ngwe, the Bassein-based commander of southwestern command, Major General Kyaw Swe, and the Monywa-based commander of northwestern command, Major General Myint Soe, could be a move to sideline them from assuming active roles in the military before the election.

While the promotion is unprecedented, it could also be a trial by the junta to use military commanders in an administrative capacity, the report suggests.

Meanwhile, a senior official in Naypyitaw told Mizzima that the electoral law, which the military is carefully designing so as to avoid it being used as a stepping stone by the opposition, is expected to be made public by the end of December or in early January 2009.

“We have to wait and see the electoral law but what I can tell you is that they will not repeat the 1990 scenario,” said a senior officer in Naypyitaw.

According to Jagan, the election law would impose restrictions on the NLD and other political parties from freely campaigning.

In 1990, the National Unity Party, a transformed party of former military strongman Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Party, lost decisively to the NLD, which analysts see as an unacceptable result for Burma’s new generation generals.

Writing by Mungpi

http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/1469-junta-backed-usda-unlikely-to-contest-2010-election.html

Administrator Note: This post is especially for those inside Burma, who cannot visit Mizzima website.

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 18, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Rwanda: UN-backed war crimes court sentences for genocide.

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Rwandan Convicted of Genocide
New York Times –
Former Rwandan Army Col. Theoneste Bagosora, right, arrived with his co-defendant Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on Thursday in Arusha, Tanzania.
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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 18, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Burma's Geopolitics

Tagged with , ,

World focus on Burma (18 December 2008)

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EU provides extra 40 million euros in aid to Myanmar
AFP –

… an extra 40.5 million euros (58.7 million dollars) in aid for two million vulnerable people in Myanmar, notably those affected by cyclone Nargis in May. …

EU to provide 40.5 million euros humanitarian aid to Myanmar
Xinhua, China –
The humanitarian situation in Myanmar worsened in 2008 because of the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis, and large increases in rice and fuel prices. …

Burma cancels license of 84 tour companies
Mizzima.com, India –
Besides, more and more tourists avoided visiting Burma, when in May the ruling junta responded poorly to a natural disaster – Cyclone Nargis – that swept …

Junta-backed USDA unlikely to contest 2010 election
Mizzima.com, India –
“All they [junta] want is the National League for Democracy and The Lady [Aung San Suu Kyi] out,” the source emphasized. According to Jagan, despite the …

World Citizen: A Year of Wisdom, Wiliness — and Craven Stupidity
World Politics Review –
Another country whose future — and present — should concern us all is Burma, renamed Myanmar by its illegitimate rulers. Burma’s pro-democracy leader, …

Asean’s human rights record is nothing to be proud of
เดอะ เนชั่น, Thailand –
Along the Thai-Burma border, about three quarters of the 140000 refugees in nine temporary shelters are women and children. These women and children need as …

Written by CFI Field Staff
Christian Freedom International, MI –
“Thank you also for helping our persecuted brothers and sisters inside Burma with emergency rice. May God bless you and fulfill all of your needs,” said …

Czech Republic, East Timor offer asylum to Burmese rebels
Mizzima.com, India –
… organisations include armed resistant groups, political groups and parties that have been living in exile and struggling to restore democracy in Burma. …

Tumbling Kelly!
Mizzima.com, India –
by Ko Soe At the time of global financial crisis, our backward and underdeveloped country Burma could not find appropriate ways and means to face this …

Lord Levene to continue as Lloyds Chairman
Director of Finance online, UK –
Levene was earlier this year personally singled out for criticism over backing the Burmese junta by facilitating insurance for those companies that finance …

Crises in Myanmar: Commission provides a further €40.5 million in …
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
During 2008, the humanitarian situation in Myanmar worsened due to the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis, and big increases in rice and fuel prices. …

2010 game plan: Clinging to power
Mizzima.com, India –
They will do their best to marginalize the ‘National League for Democracy’ (NLD) including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy forces in this …

Church World Service Year End Assesment
Worldwide Faith News (press release), NY –
In Myanmar (Burma), some 3 million people have been forced to migrate within the country. Reasons driving the displacement range from conflicts to land …

Than Shwe’s Dynastic Family Dream on Parade at State Function
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
14815-18_dec_4top2In The New Light of Myanmar’s coverage of the graduation ceremony, a picture of Shwe Mann, Burma’s Chief of Staff and Coordinator of Special Operations, …

Ban ‘Disappointed’ with Junta
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

“I am disappointed by the unwillingness of the government of Myanmar [Burma] to deliver on its promises for democratic dialogue and the release of political …

The Thinker: A ‘Gentle Lieutenant’ Is Remembered
Jakarta Globe, Indonesia –
… problem and the Moro insurgency in the Philippines; he attempted to persuade the military junta in Burma to release Aung Sang Suu Kyi, to no avail. …

Swiss Re Estimates That Over 238000 People Were Killed by …
PR Newswire (press release), NY –
… Myanmar(Burma) winds up to 200 km/h 2 87449 12.05.2008 Earthquake (Mw 7.9); China aftershocks 3 1413 19.06.2008 Typhoon Fengshen/No 6, Philippines, ..

Few Takers for Cyclone Nargis Tours
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
Visitors to Burma signing up for tours to the delta have to state the purpose of their travel and are told any donations or material aid they intend giving …

New Year Wish to the distressed poor people of Burma
Mizzima.com, India –
Unfortunately, though it became a sovereign state the country had a bad experience all along with tainted democracy, boiling insurgency, damaging socialism, …

NLD member to face further charges
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Dec 18, 2008 (DVB)–Burmese authorities are planning to file further charges against Arakan state National League for Democracy member Min Aung, …

Ban: World faces “multiple crises” in 2009
InTheNews.co.uk, UK –

… the unmoving government in Burma were also included. And the world was judged to be “on trial” over wider issues like human rights and the food crisis. …

‘Extravagant’ Americans fault
Straits Times, Singapore –
The global economic downturn is a further blow to a tourism industry struggling to recover in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis in May, and the junta’s bloody …

Myanmar blames “extravagant” Americans for crisis
Reuters UK, UK –
The former Burma relied on few imports and its main trading partners, India and China, were suffering less than others in the current economic downturn, …

Aussie busted for drugs, mate on the run
The West Australian, Australia –
Thailand toughened its drug laws in 2002, but remains a transit point for narcotics produced in neighbouring Myanmar, the world’s second largest opium …

15 migrant workers jailed in Thailand
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Dec 18, 2008 (DVB)–Fifteen Burmese migrants have been jailed for more than four years for working in Bangkok with fake permits, but the Thai boss who issued …

Wishful thinking for 2009
New Statesman, UK –
April: Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest and assumes her rightful place as the democratic head of the government of Burma. …

Ban criticizes Burma for shying away from democratization
Mizzima.com, India –
The UN has called repeatedly for the release of political prisoners including Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 13 of the …

Dissent Behind the Bamboo Curtain
FrontPage magazine.com, CA –
Xiao Qiang, who runs the Chinese blog Rock-n-Go, was invited to the White House last week for a meeting between dissident bloggers from China, Burma, …

S.BATBOLD CONGRATULATES ASEAN SECRETARY-GENERAL
Montsame (subscription), Mongolia –
As of present, it has enlisted ten countries as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. …

Prosecuting Thailand’s PAD
United Press International, Asia, Hong Kong –
In fact, the number of serious crimes committed under the banner of the group calling itself the People’s Alliance for Democracy is so large that it’s hard …

How To Be an Ethical Consumer Without Breaking the Bank
AlterNet, CA –
But when I deny my role in global issues such as human-rights violations and climate change, I am shirking my social responsibility — and this is …

The United Nations has repeatedly called on Burma to release democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 13 of the past 19 years, …

Mumbai massacre fallout hits Karachi
The News International, Pakistan –
There is also a plan for taking action against ‘illegal immigrants’, as according to official figures, more than two million Bengalis and Burmese and over …

NARA offers illegal migrants fresh start
The News International, Pakistan –
Since 2000, the UN member states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations have been marking Migrants Day by creating awareness on human rights …

Burma’s nuclear temptation
On Line opinion, Australia –
At a press conference in Rangoon on January 21, 2002, Vice-Chief of Military Intelligence Major-General Kyaw Win issued a statement: “Myanmar’s …

Bringing Hope and Help to the Persecuted People of Burma
Christian Freedom International, MI –
“Thank you also for helping our persecuted brothers and sisters inside Burma with emergency rice. May God bless you and fulfill all of your needs,” said …

The biggest disasters of 2008
WA today, Australia –
Cyclone Nargis lashed Burma on May 2 and 3, leaving 138000 people dead or missing, 2.4 million homeless and vital rice crops destroyed. …

The biggest disasters of 2008
WA today, Australia –
Cyclone Nargis lashed Burma on May 2 and 3, leaving 138000 people dead or missing, 2.4 million homeless and vital rice crops destroyed. …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 18, 2008 at 2:41 am