In response to the question posed by visiting UK prime minister David Cameron on Friday, 13 April, whether President Thein Sein is on the road of no return toward democracy, Hkun Tun Oo, who was elected in the 1990 elections, said the danger of the regime refusing to turn over power in the 2015 polls is still an ever-present one, especially if the National League for Democracy (NLD) pulls off another landslide, according to an informed source in Rangoon.
“No one can deny that change has begun,” the 69 year old leader of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) said. “But whether or not it is real or irreversible still remains a question.”
To prove his point, Hkun Tun Oo reportedly drew attention to the following facts:
- Hundreds of political prisoners are still behind bars
- Agreement has yet to be reached with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). And there is still fighting against the Shan State Army (SSA) with which Naypyitaw has already signed a ceasefire agreement
- The government says it is planning to amend the 2008 constitution. But no one, thus far, has come forth with a proposed plan. This begs the question whether or not President Thein Sein is really in charge of the Army
- There are cases of the President overruling the Parliament after a resolution has been passed, which seem to indicate that there are people who are not ready to give up their power easily. Which means the regime can still refuse to relinquish its powers if the NLD wins again in 2015 like it did in 1990
- As for the ethnic peoples, none of the constitutions written so far: the 1947, 1974 and 2008 guarantees their rights. Especially if the present constitution is still in force, there will be no peace. And if there is no peace, there will be no progress and prosperity. The off shoot is all the foreign investments that come into the country will only serve the interests of the military and not the people
Dr Aye Tha Aung of Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) added that in order to guarantee the rights of the ethnic peoples, the 2008 constitution must be amended on the basis of the 1947 Panglong Agreement, which promised “Full autonomy in internal administration,” “rights and privileges which are regarded as fundamental in democratic countries” and “financial autonomy.”
The participants which also included U Hla Saw, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP); Kachin pastor Reverend Samson; Dr Simon Tha (Karen) and U Tha Aye (Rohingya) also agreed that lifting of sanctions should wait at least until 2015, when the next general elections will be held.
Cameron and Aung San Suu Kyi had already agreed before his meeting with the ethnic leaders that easing of sanctions, and not lifting them, to “strengthen the hand of the reformers,” according to BBC.