Campaigning began earlier this month for Myanmar’s next general election. It is a widely anticipated event that pits Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League For Democracy (NLD) party against the military junta that has ruled the country for the past half-century. The NLD is expected to win a resounding victory – which would be notable were it not for the junta’s unpleasant habit of ignoring opposition victories. The NLD’s chances are further complicated by the fact that Ms. Suu Kyi, popularly known as ‘The Lady’, is barred from running herself. Local laws prohibit those with foreign-born children from holding office (her sons are British-born).
Still, the regime is taking no chances. A centrist politician, Shwe Mann, was just forcibly ejected from office last month when the junta sent 400 police officers to his party headquarters in the dark of night. An even more potent tactic involves the use of ‘yadaya’, or black magic. Astrology holds fearsome power over the Burmese, and particularly their rulers. One, after a consultation foretold an assassination attempt, reportedly shot his own reflection in a mirror on his astrologer’s advice. Than Shwe, until recently the junta’s head, dressed in women’s clothing during a nationally televised ceremony in an apparent bid to counter-act Suu Kyi’s feminine powers. Yadaya can even be used as an offensive weapon to ruin an enemy’s career. Speculation is rife that, in the upcoming elections, its practitioners will be in high demand.