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Myanmar’s military ruler promises multi-party elections

Myanmar’s military ruler promises multi-party elections

Myanmar’s military ruler, Min Aung Hlaing, has promised new multiparty elections and said his government is ready to work with any special envoy named by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

He spoke in a televised address six months after the army seized power from a civilian government after elections won by the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party. There was no timeline specified for the elections.

“Myanmar is ready to work on Asean cooperation within the Asean framework, including the dialogue with the Asean special envoy in Myanmar,” Min Aung Hlaing said.

Asean foreign ministers are to meet on Monday, when diplomats say they aim to finalise a special envoy tasked with ending violence and promoting dialogue between the junta and its opponents.

In April, the junta agreed to a five point “consensus” with Asean, which called for an end to violence, political talks and the naming of a regional special envoy.

Myanmar has endured six months of turmoil since the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and ended the country’s decade-old experiment with democracy.

The junta has consolidated its position after a lethal crackdown on street protests, which have continued in a limited form despite the violence that has seen almost 1,000 people killed.

In late July the junta cancelled the results of 2020 polls, claiming more than 11m instances of voter fraud.

“Myanmar’s junta has responded to massive popular opposition to the coup with killings, torture, and arbitrary detention of people who merely want last year’s election results to be respected and a government that reflects the popular will,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“These attacks on the population amount to crimes against humanity for which those responsible should be brought to account.”

Adding to the chaos in the country, tens of thousands of civil servants and other workers have either been sacked for joining protests or are still on strike in support of a nationwide civil disobedience campaign.

A coronavirus outbreak has overwhelmed the healthcare system, with many hospitals empty due to a work boycott by pro-democracy medical staff.

In June, the UN general assembly passed a rare motion condemning the coup and demanding the restoration of the country’s democratic transition.

With Reuters and AFP

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