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The government’s Union Election Commission has announced on the radio that the date for this year’s election, the first election since 1990 will be on the 7th of November.
Short of the numeroligically attractive 10th of the 10th 2010, it seems that the 7th was chosen for its numerological significance given that the 7 + 11= 18 and 1+8 is 9 an auspicious number in local numerology. So much so that former dictator Ne Win decommissioned bank notes not divisible by 9, in 1963 the year after he seized power.
However 11 is also significant for those inclined to numerology. The government has in the past sentenced dissidents such as the student leader Min Ko Naing to 65 years on the 11th of November at 11 am. 11 is the number for vanquishing enemies.
On Thursday it was announced that constituencies had been designated for the polling, and that further details would follow in news papers.
There will be 330 seats in the peoples parliament being contested and a further 110 seats reserved solely for members of the military, whilst a ‘House of Nationalities’ or Amyotha Hluttaw will comprise 224 seats with 56 of those reserved for the military. This will have 12 representatives from each of the administrative regions (states).
To alter the constitution it must have the consent of 75% of parliamentarians. This will make alteration particularly difficult as even if progressive parties dominate, the presence of even a few Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), essentially a military party, will tip the balance beyond the possibility of reform.
The constitution also stipulates that the military cannot face trial in a civilian court and importantly the home minister, defence, security and border control will all be nominated by the commander in chief of the military.
In any case, the voting for the constitution was highly dubious, with approval apparently at over 92%, most found it hard to see it as a credible exercise in democracy, as it was roundly criticised by experts, casting serious doubt about the legitimacy in the upcoming election.