31 Jan 2023, 13:52

UN says Myanmar junta elections will fuel violence

BANGKOK, Jan 31, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Junta plans for elections in coup-hit
Myanmar this year will "fuel greater violence", a United Nations special
envoy said on Tuesday, calling for the international community to unite in

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military toppled democracy figurehead
Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government almost two years ago, alleging massive
fraud during elections her party won in 2020.

The junta-imposed state of emergency is due to expire at the end of
January,after which the constitution states authorities must set in motion
plans to hold fresh elections.

Any military-run elections "will fuel greater violence, prolong the conflict
and make the return to democracy and stability more difficult", UN special
envoy Noeleen Heyzer said in a statement.

She called for the international community to "forge a stronger unified
position" on the planned polls.

The United States has said any elections would be a "sham". Close junta ally
Moscow says it supports holding polls.

A spokesman for UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Monday he was
"concerned by the military's stated intention to hold elections amid...
ongoing arrests, intimidation and harassment of political leaders, civil
society actors and journalists".

"Without conditions that permit the people of Myanmar to freely exercise
their political rights, the proposed polls risk exacerbating instability,"the
statement said.

The junta gave existing and aspiring political parties two months to re-
register under a strict new electoral law this month, the latest sign it is
planning fresh polls this year.

Observers say the planned poll cannot be free and fair under the present

The UN Security Council passed its first resolution on the situation in
Myanmar last month, urging the junta to release Suu Kyi and all "arbitrarily
detained prisoners".

Security Council permanent members China and Russia abstained, opting not to
wield vetoes following amendments to the wording.

India, which has close ties with the junta, also abstained.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's bloody impasse led by the United
Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional bloc have
made little headway, with the generals refusing to engage with opponents.

Heyzer met senior junta leaders in the capital Naypyidaw in August last year
during her first visit, 10 months after her appointment.

The trip drew criticism from both the junta and the military's opponents.

She was denied access to Suu Kyi and junta officials later accused her of
issuing a "one-sided statement" of what had been discussed.

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