Sunday, November 7, 2010

Elections and recognition

Burma (Myanmar) held its first elections in 20 years this weekend. Reuters reports that the vote was "marred by fraud charges and apathy" — not surprising given that the military has carefully ensured that it will win, and that last time around, in 1990, they simply ignored the election results. These famously gave a clear victory to the opposition National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Also not surprising is Suu Kyi's appeal to boycott the current election. Still, it will be interesting to see what the election results are. Even fraudulent election results tell a story, after all.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's brutal and illegitimate regime still enjoys unanimous international recognition, of course. In contrast, Somaliland, which is not officially recognized by any nation, held elections this past summer that were considered relatively fair, in which the opposition leader won, and which resulted in a peaceful transition in July. The international community continues to hope that some day Somalia will once again become a unified and peaceful nation. But in the meantime Somaliland has been de facto independent for nearly 20 years. At some point one has to wonder what purpose is served by refusing to officially recognize such a state. Numerous countries provide development assistance to the Somaliland government, but so far there is little evidence that they are considering recognizing it.

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