Myanmar army accuses government of irregularities ahead of elections

Bangkok Desk, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- Myanmar’s powerful army has accused the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi of irregularities in the run-up to this Sunday’s general elections.

In a rare statement, the Armed Forces, which governed the country with an iron fist for almost half a century until 2010, said that during the country’s transition to democracy, “free” and “fair” elections were held in 2010 and 2015. Both polls were organized by bodies with close ties to the military command.

But Sunday’s upcoming elections show a “widespread violation of laws and procedures” during early voting and “errors of neglect” in voter lists, the army said in a letter issued on Monday attributed to the head of the armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing.

“The 2020 elections should have greater freedom and justice, but now weaknesses and deficiencies are emerging that were never seen in the previous elections, which may have an adverse impact on the image of the elections,” the commander-in-chief said.

At a press conference in the Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, on Wednesday, the spokesman for the Office of the President, Zaw Htay, criticized the military commander’s comments.

“The Army’s statement is partisan and subjective. The words of the commander in chief are a contravention of the Constitution,” Zaw Htay said.

The military, which drafted the current Constitution under which the armed forces control the Ministries of Defense, Interior and Borders, as well as nominating 25 percent of deputies in parliament – which in practice grants the army the right to veto reforms to the constitution – blamed the government for the failures in the electoral process.

“The government has the full responsibility for all intentional and unintentional errors,” the Army’s statement said.

Suu Kyi, who as the country’s de facto civilian leader holds the positions of foreign minister and state councilor because she is banned from the presidency for having children with foreign passports, voted early last Thursday due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has hit the country hard in recent months.

In mid-October, the Electoral Commission announced the cancellation of the elections in several conflict zones throughout the country for security reasons, with special emphasis on the western state of Rakhain, where the army has been fighting rebel guerrillas and which is home to the Rohingya ethnic group, which was the victim in 2017 of an ethnic cleansing operation by the Myanmar military.

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