Ashley South has put together an interesting article on the position of ethnic minorities in any constitutional future for Burma.

He argues:

Regarding the referendum – calls to boycott the process, or vote ‘No’, are understandable. However, the referendum seems to represents a ‘win-win’ situation for the military government: if the constitution is rejected, presumably this will mean many more years of military rule, while the generals take their time before presenting new proposals.

Regarding any future election – whatever its deficiencies, this will probably confer at least a degree of legitimacy upon those elected. Ethnic nationality politicians and communities are therefore likely to be faced with a dilemma, regarding whether and how to participate in elections organized by the SPDC…While it may be argued that Burma’s armed ethnic groups have little to gain from participating in future elections, something is perhaps better than nothing. A continuation of the present armed stand-off mostly benefits the military government, at a time when the regime is undergoing a generational change, and seems to be establishing the ground rules for politics in Burma over the coming decade.

The full article, derived from South’s forthcoming book Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict, is well worth a read.