• Thursday, May 26, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

UN chief hopes Myanmar election will allow Rohingyas to return

  • Published at 10:28 am November 7th, 2020
File photo: Rohingya refugees walk through a shallow canal after crossing the Naf River, in Palongkhali near Ukhia, as they flee violence, in Myanmar to reach Bangladesh on October 16, 2017 AFP

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is widely expected to be returned to power in the November 8 polls

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday expressed hope that weekend elections in Myanmar would allow for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees "in safety and dignity."

In a statement from his office, he said he also hoped that the polls would help "advance inclusive sustainable development, humanitarian action, human rights and democratic reforms."

Guterres "renews his appeal for a ceasefire across the country to allow all to focus on combatting the Covid-19 pandemic," the statement said.

The UN chief "remains concerned about armed conflict in many areas of Myanmar, especially the intensifying clashes in Rakhine and Chin states," he said.

Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) is widely expected to be returned to power in the November 8 polls -- only the second election since the nation emerged from outright military rule.

Also Read - Suu Kyi’s party expected to win second term in Myanmar polls

The Rohingya crisis -- where hundreds of thousands of people fled across the border into squalid refugee camps to escape military-backed violence -- might have shattered Suu Kyi's reputation in the West, but she remains a hero for many at home.

Her defence of the nation against genocide charges at the UN's top court last December consolidated support, particularly among the dominant ethnic Bamar.

Virtually all the 600,000 Rohingya Muslims remaining in the country are stripped of citizenship and will not be able to vote.

Further mass cancellations of the election in swathes of ethnic minority areas -- ostensibly for security concerns -- mean a total of nearly two million are disenfranchised in a country with an electorate of some 37 million.

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