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With Burma’s main opposition party now disbanded and elections looming that look set to entrench military rule, DVB spoke to Pho Than Chaung, spokesperson of the Burma Communist Party, the country’s oldest existing political party. He says that while the National League for Democracy faces a tough road ahead, its members will likely stand strong.
Why are the BCP against the elections in Burma?
We have been against this election for some time, for two main reasons: firstly that the elections are aimed at materialising the 2008 constitution, the essence of which is to maintain military dictatorship under another form. Secondly, the government has been very boldly favouring the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] since the beginning through the election laws. The USDA [Union Solidarity and Development Association] are the culprit behind the Depayin massacre as well as murdering the Sangha [in 2007]. They wronged the country in many ways and they would be no better than the military government if they secure the top position.
Some believe competing in the election is better than not competing and there have been hopes that [the pro-democracy movement] will be able to make their voice heard in the new parliament?
Well, they are competing in the elections with their own ideology so I wouldn’t say anything about them. However, they will see, as soon as the elections are completed, how big a space is given to them by the junta, and some may take sides with the people. The remaining opposition [that boycotted the elections] may forgive and reaccept them. My idea is to lead them to join the fight against military dictatorship.
Do you think the National League for Democracy will be able to maintain their admiration among the public, or will they go underground?
I don’t want to speculate. They have many leaders who have a lot of experience and I guess they know what to do under certain circumstances. It might be true that the NLD’s future path is harsh and they may lose their strength. However, I believe there are many people in the NLD – in the leadership and also among the members – who will make a strong stand. So I think it’d be impossible for the NLD to perish.
Do you think people’s lives will improve after the elections?
There will be no change as to the future, as far as we can foresee now. But in a way, Burma is moving forward along with the rest of the world, so there may be chances for the people to enjoy a few of the [privileges] left over from the junta leaders and their cronies.
How about the political process in the post-election period?
We can’t only think about moving in the little space granted by the junta – we should also think about taking risks and fighting our own way out of the boundaries. It would be wrong to think we can achieve something easily.