Burma’s much-anticipated 2015 election will take place in November, according to the country’s president, speaking to the nation in his monthly radio address on Sunday.
According to the official translation of his speech in state media, President Thein Sein said, “It is to be expected that political parties will hotly contest this democratic exercise. In doing so to achieve their political goals, I strongly urge the contestants to show mutual respect, understanding and magnanimity.
“Therefore I urge political leaders, and each and every citizen to work together to achieve our common goals,” he added.
The principal opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD), has voiced their commitment to a vigorous campaign during this election year. There has previously been some doubt about their participation, after NLD chair Aung San Suu Kyi’s ambiguous comments voiced resistance to the polls now that the NLD drive for constitutional reform appears to have been unsuccessful.
Despite a year-long campaign by the NLD leader, the 2008 Constitution still effectively enshrines a veto for the military. Under Article 436 it demands a 75 percent majority in a parliament in which 25 percent of seats are reserved for military appointed MPs.
Suu Kyi is also constitutionally ineligible to stand for a presidential or vice-presidential post. Article 59(f) disallows any person whose immediate family members have foreign citizenship. Suu Kyi’s late husband, Michael Aris, was English, and their two sons have dual citizenship.
Having boycotted national elections in 2010, the NLD returned to the political fold shortly after President Thein Sein came into power the following year, when he launched a series of economic and political reforms.
The NLD re-registered and competed in by-elections in April 2012, winning 43 of the 46 constituencies up for grabs. Suu Kyi represented the party in the Rangoon township of Kawhmu, winning a seat in the lower house by a landslide.