While the election may provide the basis for the creation of regional parliaments that could allow some degree of ethnic representation, observers say that most of the ethnically-affiliated parties have close links to the regime and will do little to advance minority interests.
MAE LA CAMP, THAILAND—Aside from the checkpoints, it could be any village in Thailand. The bamboo houses, bisected by dirt lanes and picturesque streams, are well-tended and strung with brightly-coloured laundry; in dirt-floored cafes, men in Burmese longyi (sarongs) chat over shots of sugary tea and chew betel nut, while nearby stalls stock the latest Thai cosmetics and DVDs. Children, their cheeks daubed with swirls of traditional thanaka face paint, chant lessons in Burmese and English in well-equipped bamboo classrooms. Read more