Status on the South African Government recognising the Elections in Myanmar on 7 November 2010 as free, fair and legitimate
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO: 3283
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 37 OF 12 NOVEMBER 2010
Mr J Self (DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
- Whether the Government recognizes the elections in Myanmar on 7 November 2010 as free, fair and legitimate; if not, (a) under what conditions does the Government recognise elections as free, fair and legitimate, (b) what consideration is given to the assessment of international observers and (c) what is the (i) period within which elections are assessed and (ii) criteria for considering elections legitimate; if so,
- whether it will affect our diplomatic relations with Myanmar; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
- whether the Government recognises the winner of the elections in Myanmar; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
1. In the run-up to the elections in Myanmar in 2010, the South African Government consistently expressed concern that the provisions of the electoral laws passed in preparation for the elections were not conducive to inclusive, democratic elections. In particular, the provision that all persons who have been imprisoned for political activism against the Military Government were deemed to have “criminal records” and were excluded from joining any political party removed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in the elections.
On 10 November 2010, the South African Government issued a Statement indicating that it had concluded that conditions had not been created for inclusive dialogue in which all parties and interest groups could participate freely and openly. The statement also made mention that there were indications that the elections had been marred by serious challenges and that they did not meet internationally acceptable standards in terms of inclusivity, transparency and fairness.
The outcome of the elections will not affect South Africa’s diplomatic relations with Myanmar. The South African Ambassador to Thailand will continue to be accredited to Myanmar on non-resident basis. Nothing so far points to the regime being willing to succumb to international pressure demanding dialogue and inclusivity. South Africa would therefore achieve nothing by breaking off diplomatic relations but would effectively close a channel of communication to share its own experience with reconciliation and nation building, should the Government of Myanmar ever decide to approach South Africa for advice and assistance.
3.The status quo in Myanmar effectively remains unchanged. South Africa will continue to call on the Government of Myanmar, in line with the commitments made in the “roadmap to democracy”, to show progress towards transition to an inclusive, democratic government, nation building and respect for human rights.
South Africa uses international forums of pronouncing on the validity or otherwise of elections, these are; free and fair environment leading up to elections, the release of all political prisoners and proper conduct of elections themselves allowing people to express their will freely and through a secret ballot.
SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON THE ELECTIONS HELD IN MYANMAR ON 7 NOVEMBER 2010
The South African Government has taken note of the elections held in Myanmar on 7 November 2010, the first elections held in the country in 20 years.
South Africa has closely followed the process that led to the elections and concluded that conditions were not created for inclusive dialogue in which all parties and interest groups could freely and openly participate.
Indications are that the elections were marred by serious challenges and that they did not meet internationally acceptable standards in terms of inclusivity, transparency and fairness. Their credibility has been widely questioned.
South Africa continues to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar, but believes that an opportunity for progress towards democratisation, nation building and reconciliation was lost.
In line with the commitments made in the “roadmap to democracy”, South Africa expresses the hope that the new government will show progress towards a transition to an inclusive, democratic government, nation building and respect for human rights.
South Africa calls on the new government to honour its undertaking to release Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, together with other political prisoners without delay and to allow them to participate in normal political activity.
For more information, please contact the Chief Director for Public Diplomacy, Mr Saul Kgomotso Molobi, on 082 940 1647, +27 12 351 0083 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building
Private Bag X152
10 November 2010