Myanmar, Russia ink deal to cooperate in ‘electoral activities’

Bangkok, Sep 13 (EFE).- Myanmar and Russia have signed a memorandum of understanding for “cooperation in electoral activities,” according to the official newspaper of Myanmar’s military junta on Wednesday.

The agreement came after Myanmar’s Union Election Union Commission Chairman Thein Soe returned to Yangon on Tuesday with a delegation that visited Russia from Sep. 6-12, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

During the trip, the delegation signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in election activities with the Russian Central Election Commission in Moscow, and the sides discussed strengthening relations, voter “education, effective media utilization, [and] transparent election processes,” among other things, it added.

Myanmar’s military seized power from an elected government on Feb. 1 2021, ending the country’s fledgling democracy.

Russia’s last presidential election in 2018 was labeled a sham by governments and organizations, and Moscow will hold the next one in March.

On Monday, the Kremlin declared that the results of last week’s regional and local elections show “absolute support from the population” for President Vladimir Putin.

However, the European Union condemned the holding of these polls in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine and said that it will not recognize the results of the elections, which it considered a “further futile attempt by Russia to legitimize or normalize its illegal military control and attempted annexation of parts of Ukrainian territories.”

Meanwhile, on July 1 Myanmar for the fourth time extended its state of emergency for six months, which in practice prevents elections from being held, going against the promise of the junta by August. In any case, any election held would lack legitimacy in the absence of opposition and given the current situation.

The junta justified its coup by claiming, without producing evidence, that the November 2020 election, in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept the board, had been fraudulent, ending a decade of democratic transition.

Moscow is one of the few partners of the Myanmar junta, to which it supplies weapons and diplomatic support.

Military chief Min Aung Hlaing met with Putin last year during a trip to Russia.

Bilateral visits from delegations of both countries are frequent, and on Wednesday, a day after the return of the electoral delegation, the Global New Light of Myanmar announced that the junta’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister traveled to Russia on Tuesday with a delegation, and will also travel to Belarus, on a visit through Sep. 17.

The coup d’état plunged Myanmar into a serious political and social crises that has left much of the country in chaos, with violent clashes between the junta forces and their opponents and a crackdown by security forces against any form of dissent. EFE


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