Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bhutto and Suu Kyi briefly swap places

With the road leading to her home blocked by barbed wire, metal barricades and dozens of police officers, Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister and major opponent of Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf, was kept yesterday from attending a rally. Bhutto had intended to lead demonstrators in protest against the week-old state of emergency (see our discussion of states of emergency in posts below by Diane, Michelle, Fiona, myself and again Fiona), but found herself confined for the day. She was, however, able to meet with her party’s leaders Saturday midday. Bhutto has only recently returned to Pakistan, following a deal with Musharraf. Her brief confinement has probably increased her credibility without damaging her chances of making a deal with Musharraf; indeed, it is reported that talks between the two are continuing. (Bhutto's by no means the only woman to have endured house arrest this last week; see Diane's post below.)

Meanwhile in Burma/Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi (see here and here) has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, and hasn’t met with members of her party, the National League for Democracy, since 2004. Yesterday, she was allowed to do so to discuss the preconditions the military junta has set for meeting with her. Though Suu Kyi is not seeking confrontation or regime change, the proposed talks follow on massive demonstrations led by monks ending in a crackdown by the junta in the last days of September. Ibrahim Gambari, the UN representative who has visited Burma/Myanmar twice since then, was apparently “instrumental” in arranging the proposed talks between the junta and Suu Kyi. Talks may lead to a constitutional referendum and election: after 14 years of on-again off-again sessions, in early September a constitutional convention produced guidelines for a constitution. Unfortunately, the guidelines ensure a strong role for the military.

No comments: