09/18/2010, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Burmese junta bans elections in areas dominated by ethnic minorities

Claims there would be “no guarantees of justice and impartiality" in Nov. 7 general election. Commission decision involves citizens of the Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan states. Critics and opponents say the move is motivated by "fear of losing seats" and "threats from insurgents."

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Burmese general elections of 7 November will not be held in some areas of the country. The electoral Commission claims that in five states of the federation of Myanmar - characterized by the presence of ethnic minorities - there would be “no guarantees of justice and impartiality". In reality, explain critics, the regime is afraid of loosing and has blocked the vote.

Burmese state TV quoted the electoral commission as saying that "the election will not be held in several constituencies where free and fair elections could not be held". The commission said the polls would be cancelled in several townships in the states of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan.

Among the areas affected by the measure, ethnic minorities are in the majority or they are strongholds of rebel groups, who have been fighting for decades with the military regime that dominates Myanmar. Recently, different ethnic groups have rebuffed a proposal by the military to join the army and become part of the specialized Border Guard Force, assigned to border control.

Aye Thar Aung, a prominent Arakanese politician in Yangon said the polling was cancelled in ethnic areas because the Burmese regime “seems worried about losing seats and threats from ethnic rebels against the poll”.

The elections of November 7, the first in 20 years, are touted by the junta as one "step" in the process of democratisation. Opponents, Western governments and human rights activists respond that vote is a "farce" because all power will remain firmly in the hands of the military.

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