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Myanmar’s Election Success
Myanmar’s Election Success
Myanmar Foreign Minister and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand on 23 June 2016. REUTERS/Narong Sangnak
Report 282 / Asia

缅甸新政府:已站稳脚跟?

缅甸民主政府走马上任的头四个月为其奠定了积极的基调。但政府实际领导人昂山素季仍需探索与民族叛乱分子和解的途径、重新平衡与华关系、并克服若开邦根深蒂固的问题。

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在新政府五年任期的头四个月,便要对其政绩做出明确判断,这显然为时尚早。然而,本届政府的优先事项及施政方法正逐渐明朗,并有初步迹象表明,其国家政治亦在适应已改变的现实。这些都为初步评估缅甸新政府提供了基础,而民选政府亦正领导着缅甸过渡到一个新阶段。它不仅奠定了积极的基调,还就解决前独裁政府遗留问题而迈出了重要的步骤。一些在押政治犯已被及时释放,而一些高压和过时的法律亦已被废除或正在被修订。

而人们最重要的观察则可能是,缅甸虽经历了一年的变动和无常,但却无重大的政治动荡。 在这场可信的大选中,昂山素季领导的全国民主联盟几乎兵不血刃地赢得了压倒性胜利。其与军方支持政府的权力移交平稳有序,而依照2008年宪法,在没有严重违反关键原则或引起双方重大分歧之下,新政府现与军方形成了尴尬的并存局面。如何在这些暗礁林立的水域中顺利穿行对各方而言都是关键的初步成就。

这项任务的困难性和不确定性也产生了后果。依宪法,长期受压迫的基层变革运动领导人昂山素季仅拥有部分的行政权,这既是因为她在形势上被禁止担任总统职务,且由于军队拥有重要的宪法权力。这似乎也放大了长久以来的倾向,即致使她集权且几乎不授权。她是国家顾问、外交部长、总统办公厅长,并全权负责和平进程和若开邦问题。

虽然没有发生重大事故,但也存在一些失误,例如在和平进程和若开邦问题中,她未能注意到复杂的细节,以及在宣布重要决定或倡议之前缺乏协商。在与军队的关系上,她也非总能处理得当。尽管昂山素季和军方在和平进程上似乎有着良好的合作和统一的意见——以致于连地方武装组织领导人们都担忧他们或会在协商中面对双方形成的强大联盟——然而双方在其他领域则仍关系紧张,尤其在昂山素季作为国家顾问的任命以及该法案在四月如何通过立法机构之事上存在争议。若要保证权力过渡的成功与稳定,与军队保持合作关系是基础,更宽泛地说,则是要让军方看到其做出实质让步之后亦是有利可图。

政府还面临了艰巨的任务。在经过了几十年的专制统治和内战后,结构性问题给政府制造了许多大挑战——有些可以追溯到1948年独立和国家建设进程的不完整——而这并非简单依靠推行更开明的政策所能解决的。政府必须探索如何推动和平进程、解决若开邦问题、并继续推进对外关系的再平衡这一微妙的进程,特别是与中国的关系。作为国家顾问、外交部长和负责和平进程和若开邦问题的高级别委员会主席,所有这些战线的领导权都落在昂山素季的肩头,而这也代表了巨大的责任和可能超负荷的工作量。成功取决于政策和个人双重挑战:这不仅需要她在方法上深思熟虑、集思广益,还需要她懂得如何下放权力。

国际社会可通过如下方式提供帮助。西方国家在给予政府强有力的政治支持时,不应回避给与坦诚的建议。虽缅甸亟需财政和技术支持,但也很可能出现援助项目不协调以及技术援助重叠和对立,从而使政府能力不堪重负、甚至适得其反。捐助者还需注意,应严谨地设计并密切地监测其资助的项目,因为在许多受冲突影响的地区,国家和政府影响力仍然缺席或受到争议。出于如上原因,探讨西方与军方合作的适当渠道亦是尤为关键。权力过渡是否能保持可持续性取决于,军队能否看到其放弃实权后在体制上的裨益;同时,当下一代缅甸军官若能与民主国家同仁友好往来,这将对军方改革做出重要贡献。

仰光/布鲁塞尔,2016年7月29日

Supporters celebrate as they wait for official results from the Union Election Commission in front of the National League for Democracy Party (NLD) head office, Yangon, 9 November 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Commentary / Asia

Myanmar’s Election Success

In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Myanmar adviser Richard Horsey explains the historic significance of the vote and looks ahead at some of the challenges the country faces as it navigates an uneasy transition.

Myanmar held its first openly contested general election in 25 years on Sunday, with initial results indicating a landslide victory by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Crisis

Group: What is your initial assessment of the political situation as election results are coming in?

Richard Horsey: Assuming that nothing happens in the counting and tabulation of results to alter the present positive assessment, this is a remarkable moment for the people of Myanmar. To be able to hold a peaceful, orderly vote in a country with little experience of electoral democracy, with deep political fissures, and with ongoing armed conflict in several areas, is a major achievement for the country as a whole.

Turnout was reportedly very high. The capacity of the Union Election Commission has clearly been stretched, but it managed mostly to keep things together, which is impressive. The initial statements from election observation missions so far have been very positive, indicating that the vote was overwhelmingly peaceful, orderly and free from major issues. It appears that nearly all polling stations opened on time, that voting proceeded in an orderly manner, and that secrecy of the vote was maintained; there was lack of transparency with advance voting, but in most places this does not appear to have affected a large number of votes.

Were there signs of political interference by the military to control the outcome?

There were no signs of serious manipulation, and it was always likely to be spotted if it happened. There was a high degree of transparency, with around 12,000 domestic observers and 1,000 internationals. Party agents were present across the country, and did not have their access restricted – including at polling stations inside military compounds, which had been a concern.

The fact that there are so many observers and greater media freedom is highlighting issues that would probably never have surfaced in the past. Procedural problems were noted in a small number of places, but these were mostly minor. A very small number of more serious irregularities were reported, including the late arrival of advance votes in a few constituencies. Some voters were missing from the voter roll and therefore unable to cast their ballot – a problem widely reported before election day, but which only seems to have impacted a small proportion of polling stations.

With 25 per cent of parliamentary seats reserved for the military, what would even the most sweeping victory for the NLD achieve?

Current indications are that the NLD will have a majority, even with the military seats included. The biggest challenge facing the new administration is how to forge a constructive working relationship with the military. That will be the key determinant of what the next administration can achieve in practice.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi provided some hints at a press conference last Thursday as to how she would wield her party’s mandate. Whereas she had earlier encouraged her candidates and party members to show restraint and humility in the face of victory, last week she sounded very much like a leader in waiting. Suu Kyi told journalists that she would run the country if the NLD wins, despite a constitutional provision that bars her from becoming president. She said that she would be “above the president”. However, Section 58 of the constitution states that there cannot be anyone above the president.

Myanmar’s powerful military and the commander in chief surely see this as a provocative and confrontational stance. It crosses one the military’s clear red lines, which is that Suu Kyi cannot run the country. She explicitly challenged the constitution’s balance of power between the president and commander in chief. So if Suu Kyi is “above the president” and also claims for herself a position “above the commander in chief”, I just don’t see that going well.

Of course, there are now nearly five months before power is transferred to the new administration, and that gives a lot of time to work out how the NLD and the military are going to work together. If Suu Kyi works at building those relationships and reassures the military that she’s going to work with them, there is no reason for confrontation between the two. If, however, she focuses on pushing constitutional change and on trying to leverage her popular mandate to challenge the military’s position, there could be trouble ahead.