Thank you. That's a really important question.
How fair and inclusive is an election if an entire indigenous community of over 1 million people is not allowed to vote, despite the Rohingya having voted in each of the country's previous elections? How democratic is a country with a constitution that reserves 25% of the seats in Parliament for military nominees, as well as key positions in the cabinet, thereby investing the military with veto powers on constitutional amendments?
Alexander Lambsdorff, head of the European Union's election observation mission has said:
The vote cannot be considered truly democratic because 25% of the seats were not contested. He voiced concern that the Rohingya Muslims were largely absent from voting rolls and candidate lists...[reflecting] their disenfranchisement.
Moreover, Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, has said that she would not call the election “free and fair”. Robinson represented the Carter Center as an election observer. She was quoted as saying:
And I wouldn't tend to use that expression anyway, if you've got 25 percent of both houses (of parliament) to the military, problems with the constitution, people excluded because they're Muslim or the Rohingya.
The point of these quotes and these questions is to say that, yes, they have been moving in a positive direction, but to pretend that they have a democracy.... Over and over again in response to the report by the House of Commons, our government had said that it's a democracy. They're happy. However, the reality is that we really have to approach it with a lot of skepticism. Even Aung San Suu Kyi has been portrayed as using authoritarian type of rule. She's been very authoritarian in the way that she's dealing with people who are working with and under her.
Therefore, we have to approach it with a bit more skepticism. Just because we want to believe it's a democracy, doesn't make it so. We need to be more careful with that.