UN's Ban urges Myanmar to ensure polls 'free, fair'

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reacted cautiously to Myanmar's announcement that nationwide elections will be held Nov. 7.

UN's Ban urges Myanmar to ensure polls 'free, fair'

 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reacted cautiously to Myanmar's announcement on Friday that nationwide elections will be held Nov. 7, urging the ruling generals to ensure the vote is "free and fair."

"The Secretary-General has taken note of the announcement by the Union Election Commission of Myanmar," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.

In a cautiously worded statement, he added that Ban "reiterates his call on the Myanmar authorities to honor their publicly stated commitments to hold inclusive, free and fair elections in order to advance the prospects of peace, democracy and development for Myanmar."

State media announced on Friday in Myanmar that the election would take place on Nov. 7.

Nesirky did not mention detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party refused to register for the election in protest at election laws it says are unjust.

However, he said Ban urged the former Burma "to release all remaining political prisoners without delay so that they can freely participate in the political life of their country."

The election will take place about a week before Suu Kyi is expected to be freed from house arrest on Nov. 13. The NLD won by a landslide in the last elections in 1990, but the military ignored the results.

Forty parties have registered to take part in elections to create what is to become the first civilian government in almost half a century in the reclusive, army-ruled country of 48 million people. But several big parties have said the election timing undermined their ability to raise funds.

The United States, Britain and other Western nations have joined human rights groups in criticizing Myanmar's junta for preventing Suu Kyi and other political opponents from participating in the election.

In contrast to the U.N. secretary-general, U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement dismissing Myanmar's announcement as a "charade."

He urged President Barack Obama "to renew his support for Aung San Suu Kyi and pro-democracy forces within Burma and work to ensure that elements of the international community are not tempted to recognize this mockery of the democratic process."

Many diplomats and analysts see the polls as intended to strengthen the military's power under the guise of civilian rule in an attempt to lure investment to the resource-rich country nestled strategically between booming China and India.
 

Reuters

Last Mod: 14 Ağustos 2010, 14:17
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