Myanmar elections going to be the most crucial and controversial in country’s history

NEW DELHIEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Sep 21, 2020, 10:58 PM IST


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Analysts say the November 8 election is a test of the extent of Myanmar’s democratic reforms.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi remains the frontrunner, as Myanmar gears up for General Elections - its second since it emerged from decades of military rule.

Myanmar plans to push ahead with a November general election despite calls from opposition parties to postpone it because of a surge in novel coronavirus cases.

Analysts say the November 8 election is a test of the extent of Myanmar’s democratic reforms.

Parties halted campaigning in the commercial capital of Yangon on Monday after authorities imposed a citywide lockdown, forcing the majority of its five million residents to work from home in the toughest measure yet to combat the virus.

The last general election in 2015 brought to power the National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi after more than five decades of military rule.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory, partly through tactical alliances with ethnic minority parties that were also eager to get rid of military rule.

Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner who won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading a nonviolent pro-democracy movement for more than two decades, remains by far the country’s most popular politician.

Challenging Suu Kyi is her former ally Lady Thet Thet Khine.

"The National League for Democracy (NLD) is no longer the solution for the country. And the way the party is run is very chaotic and it's very autocratic within the party." said Thet Thet Khine , Chairperson of People's Pioneer Party.

Rohingya politicians excluded from election

Rohingya politician Abdul Rasheed was born in Myanmar and is one of the very few from the Muslim minority to have Myanmar citizenship.

His father was a civil servant. But when the country goes to the polls in November, he will not be able to stand, because officials accuse him of having foreign roots.
"We have all these documents that the government issued, and they don't accept the fact that my parents are citizens. I feel bad about that and feel concerned," he said.

The vast majority of the Rohingya are unlikely to be able to vote due to lack of citizenship, leaving little hope of victory for the very few Rohingya candidates who managed to get approval to stand in the election.

While voter lists have been posted across the country, none have appeared at the camps outside the Rakhine state capital of Sittwe, where about 100,000 Rohingya are confined, community elder Kyaw Hla Aung told Reuters by phone.

The Myanmar military still fights accusations of human rights abuses. The election in November may just be the most crucial & controversial in Myanmar’s history.

(With inputs from agencies)