Myanmar’s poll process deeply flawed: UN

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NEW YORK - The lack of the freedoms of expression, assembly and association in Myanmar has made the electoral process in that country “deeply flawed”, a UN human rights expert said Wednesday.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, who visited Myanmar three times but was refused another visit in August, told the UN General Assembly that he was “disappointed” by developments in the electoral process there. General elections are scheduled for Nov 7.

Quintana wrote a report endorsed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on human rights in Myanmar, which was presented to the 192-nation assembly for debate. Quintana produced the report as human-rights rapporteur on conditions in Myanmar.

“It is clear that this process remains deeply flawed,” Quintana said in an address to the assembly.

He said there has been no release of political prisoners, and the high costs and limited time for registration have hampered political parties that are not backed by the government to organise themselves for the elections.

“It is clear that the process has not been inclusive,” he said.

Ethnic parties and candidates have been excluded and elections cancelled in 300 villages in ethnic areas for purpoted security reasons, Quintano said. He said tensions have risen in ethnic areas.

He said the Myamnar government should at a minimum release more than 2,000 political prisoners as urged by many governments, the UN, the Human Rights Council and the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Governments and organizations have called on Myanmar to hold “free, fair, all-inclusive and transparent elections”, Quintano said.

Ban said that Myanmar should back its support for democracy with the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi so she can participate in the Nov 7 general elections.

Ban renewed the demand for Suu Kyi’s participation in the elections because the military government in Myanmar has committed to hold “free and fair” elections for the first time in 20 years, and has provided “political space” for some groups in the democratic process.

“It is all the more necessary for the authorities to ensure that the elections are conducted in an inclusive, credible, participatory and transparent manner,” Ban said.

“In this regard, I reiterate my call for the release of all

political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as the clearest signal of such commitments.”

Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, had decided to boycott the elections. The military junta has kept her under house arrest for most of the last 20 years, since she won the presidential elections in 1990. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Ban said that failure by Myanmar, formerly Burma, to demonstrate a credible vote in November would undermine credibility to advance national reconciliation and political, social and economic reforms.

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