Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The November 7 general election in Myanmar will not be "credible" without the release of political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. So says Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, after a meeting two days ago in New York with members of the so-called "Group of Friends of Myanmar". He added that the group calls for a "greater presence" in the vote, through a ballot that is "participatory and transparent." In Myanmar, meanwhile, incidents of insubordination among the soldiers continue, who refuse to perform assigned duties in protest against the scarcity of food and non-payment of wages.
The November 7 vote is part of the "road to democracy," trumpeted by the Burmese military regime, in an attempt to legitimatise itself in the eyes of the international community. International experts and domestic opponents argue that these elections are a "sham", exploited by the junta to maintain power and quash the minority that is fighting for a true democracy. The UN secretary general and ministers from countries members of the "Friends of Myanmar" - after a meeting behind closed doors - stressed the need for an electoral path characterized by "greater participation, transparency and representation." "This is essential - added Ban Ki-moon - for the election to be seen as credible and contribute to Myanmar's stability and development."
The "Group of Friends of Myanmar" consists of Australia, United Kingdom, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United States, Vietnam and the European Union. The meeting - held on the sidelines of UN General Assembly – was not attended by leaders from Myanmar, whose government declined to respond to comments by Ban Ki-moon. However, on 26 September U Nyan Win, Myanmar’s Foreign Minister, met with UN Secretary General at the United Nations headquarters in New York. In recent days, sources close to the junta said that Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democratic opposition, may vote, but will not be allowed to leave the house where she is being held. The Nobel Peace Laureate is serving a sentence of 18 months of house arrest , whose terms expire shortly after the election.
Meanwhile, incidents insubordination among the soldiers in Myanmar. They are refusing to perform the daily tasks assigned to them in increasing protest against unpaid wages and scarce food rations. A series of interviews by the BBC shows that for weeks the soldiers have not received their rations, officers have blocked the payment of wages and access to savings, held in a bank.