Under the leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the mantra of ‘change’, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won an overwhelming victory in Myanmar’s 2015 general elections. This display of popular support for the NLD shows that people of Myanmar are fully invested in progressing towards a true democratic transition. A huge challenge for the NLD-led Government, however, is the process of dismantling the enormous influence of the Myanmar Army over the country’s governance structure and institutions including the day-to-day administration of the country that runs right down to village level through the ubiquitous, General Administration Department (GAD). As such, this briefing paper provides an overview of the GAD, along with an analysis into why wresting control of the administrative body from the Myanmar Army is essential for the future of the country.
Despite the much lauded political reforms and the narrative of democratic transition, the Myanmar Army still enjoys firmly entrenched political, economic and administrative power. Most notably, the 2008 Constitution guarantees serving military personnel 25% representation in the country’s national parliament as well as subnational, region and state parliaments. As amending the constitution requires over 75% support from parliament, the military has a de-facto veto that prohibits any attempt to counter their power through constitutional change. Further, the 2008 Constitution provides the military with control over key ministries, including Defence, Home Affairs (MoHA), and Border Affairs.
One of the most pervasive elements of military influence comes in the form of the GAD. Organized under the umbrella of the MoHA, the GAD centralizes administration and governance of the country. It has significant power over the subnational, state and region parliaments, district and township level bodies, and also plays a major role in administration of the village-tract level. As the MoHA falls under the leadership of a military-appointed Minister, the GAD is ultimately accountable to the Myanmar Army.
The Myanmar Army’s unelected control over the GAD falls outside the responsibility that is typical for a military operating under a truly democratic government. The wide-sweeping administrative functions of the GAD, which affect the country at every level of governance, must be placed under civilian control if the NLD is to further its democratic transition.
Download full briefer in English HERE.
စာတမ္းတို ျမန္မာဘာသာကုိ ဤေနရာတြင္ ရယူႏုိင္သည္။