Early next month Burma goes to the polls for what are shaping up to be its freest general elections for 25 years. The National League for Democracy (NLD) party of former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, is poised to win a sizeable chunk of the 664 legislative seats. That would be a watershed moment for the former pariah nation, which has opened up politically and economically since democratic reforms were introduced three years ago.
However, significant problems remain. Suu Kyi, who is already a legislator, remains barred from becoming President, owing to her having married a Briton and having two sons who are U.K. citizens. These constitutional provisions were introduced by the former junta specifically to scupper the democracy icon’s political aspirations.
On Tuesday, the NLD announced it had filed a complaint against the country’s Union Election Commission regarding error-strewn voter lists, alleged defamation against Suu Kyi and perceived bias in favor of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
All this will worry Washington. U.S. President Barack Obama has visited Burma twice in the past three years, championing the democratic transition and rolling back economic sanctions. This is not simply altruism: a free, prosperous Burma (officially now known as Myanmar) would prove a boon to his administration’s much-touted “rebalancing” to Asia. Conversely, any electoral skulduggery would prove embarrassing.
Here are seven factors that may prove decisive as the nation heads to the ballot box on Nov. 8.
Full story: Time
Myanmar/Burma political news and updates.
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