Burma Plans Crackdown On Monks As Election Nears

February 22, 2010

Author: Andrew Buncombe

Source: The Independent


The military authorities in Burma are planning a crackdown on the country's Buddhist monks to "discipline" them ahead of forthcoming elections.

State media reported over the weekend that the senior abbot who heads a government-controlled committee of senior monks is to call a meeting to outline new regulations. While monks are not eligible to vote in the election, analysts believe new restrictions will be imposed to further prevent them becoming involved in anything considered "political".

The junta, which styles itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has said that elections are to be held later this year as part of a process of transforming Burma into a democracy. Most observers believe the vote will be a deeply flawed process that further cements the role of the military within the country's political establishment, and the main opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is widely expected to still be under house arrest and unable to participate. But some analysts believe the authorities remain nervous about a potential challenge from the monks, who in the autumn of 2007 led major demonstrations.