I had spent two nights -one in Nairobi and another in Bangkok thanks to Kenya Airways great service. So I arrived in Yangon whn over 200 Young Global Leaders had already immersed themselves in great discussion and I had to catch up.
1: Learning about Turkey in Myanmar
On my second day in Myanmar we visited a training institute for young leaders to discuss public leadership. One of the great presentations came from Turkey. We were at an organization called Egress to exchange ideas on democracy and transitions. So I learnt that though Turkey has had free and fair elections, ethnic disputes and separatism have not gone away. Our presenter Umit left a couple of points for our hosts and I.
- Transition doesn’t mean immediate consolidation with a few exceptions.
- Elected governments are not necessarily much more liberal than military governments
- Having elections and changing a constitution are not enough: authoritarianism may be in the society’s DNA so people might have gotten too used to it. There’s need for more work after those two processes.
- Democracy and human rights do not often rank very high on the voters priority list.
I found these lessons not only relevant for Myanmar but also applied much to Uganda. I was amazed by the Myanmar youth who shared with us what they thought their government should make priority. Peace and security was high followed by education and political inclusiveness.