Sunday, January 15, 2012

Burma: why the abrupt change?

when something doesn't make enough sense, there's a piece of the puzzle missing.

And so it was with the abrupt volte face on the part of Burma's rulers over the past year.  Why have they opened up, why have they released so many political prisoners.

Someone said to me it was China's doing, but I see no good evidence of that.  Their desire to be welcomed back to ASEAN's fold?  Yet they weren't too worried about that before.  And, in the scheme of things, it wouldn't normally be a game changer for the junta.  Wikipedia suggested they were eying a win in the 2015 election.  But why not simply do then what they've done in the past: ban opposition, intimidate, and stuff ballot papers?

Then I heard the comment that it was the doing of Thein Sein, now president.  This man worked his way up through the military ranks, and was appointed Prime Minister by the junta.  He quit his military career in 2010 to become civilian head of the party the junta orchestrated to succeed in 2010.

Wikipedia: "The military junta was dissolved in 2011 following a general election in 2010 and a civilian government installed."  Well, that is a bit of a change.  Wikipedia again: [Sein] is "generally considered to be a moderate and reformist in the new government".  What, no junta?  Despite that 2010 election generally considered to have been fraudulent?

That still represents an abrupt change in tack.  Why would the junta use a corrupt election to remove itself from the game and install a moderate?  They've done it, but the question is: what is behind the change?

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