Aung San Suu Kyi casts early vote in Myanmar general elections

Yangon, Myanmar, Oct 29 (efe-epa).- Myanmar’s de facto leader on Thursday cast her early vote for the upcoming general elections amid strict health and safety measures as Covid-19 cases rise in the Southeast Asian nation.

Wearing gloves and a mask, Aung San Suu Kyi deposited her paper ballot in Naypyidaw, the capital, rather than in her constituency in Yangon given the travel restrictions in the country.

The leader on Monday encouraged Burma’s population to go out and vote for the 8 November ballot but to abide by the Covid-19 health and safety regulations in place. Some opposition supporters have called for the election process to be delayed.

Myanmar avoided the worst effects of the pandemic earlier this year but by August it had an overall caseload of 49,000 and had reported 1,171 deaths.

Although these figures are relatively low for a national population of 53 million, they are enough to saturate the country’s vulnerable health system.

The United Nations said it had “serious concerns” about the human rights situation ahead of the election in Myanmar.

“These include violations of the right to political participation, particularly of minority groups — including, disproportionately, the Rohingya Muslim and ethnic Rakhine population in Rakhine State,” a spokesperson for the high commissioner for human rights said in a statement Tuesday.

“Myanmar’s discriminatory citizenship and electoral laws confer different sets of political rights to different classes of citizens, affecting most clearly the Muslim minorities who are largely excluded from citizenship.”

The UN agency added that the country’s electoral commission had canceled polling in 57 municipalities without sufficient justification, while some parts of Rakhine and Chin states were being affected by telephone and internet blackouts.

The Myanmar Army is currently fighting the ethnic-separatist rebels of the Arakan Army in Rakhine State, which is home to the Rohingya minority group that was subjected to a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign by the military and forced out of their settlements in 2017.

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