Myanmar poll a `key test` of reform: UN envoy

Last Updated: Sunday, February 5, 2012 - 23:06

Yangon: A top United Nations envoy on Sunday
hailed dramatic changes in Myanmar but said by-elections would
be a "key test" of the Army-backed regime`s commitment to
reform.

UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tomas
Ojea Quintana, welcomed a "continuing wave of reforms" since
his last visit in August, but said "serious challenges
remain".

"The upcoming by-elections on 1 April will be a key
test of how far the government has progressed in its process
of reform," he told reporters at a press conference to outline
his preliminary observations.

"It is therefore essential that they are truly free,
fair, inclusive and transparent."

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent much of
the past two decades in detention, is likely to be swept into
parliament in the April vote.

The democracy icon`s decision to stand in the poll is
seen as a key sign of progress in the country, which was
dominated by the military for nearly half a century.

A nominally-civilian government came to power last
year following controversial November 2010 elections and has
surprised observers with a number of positive moves including
a major release of political prisoners in January.

Quintana said the country must learn lessons from the
2010 poll, which was marred by widespread complaints of
cheating and the absence of Suu Kyi, who was under house
arrest at the time.

He said reports of "irregularities" and restrictions
on political party campaign activities "should be addressed
seriously" ahead of the April by-election.

Last week, Suu Kyi was greeted by tens of thousands of
supporters during her first trip outside Yangon since
declaring her intention to contest the polls.

The democracy icon`s decision to stand in the poll is
seen as a key sign of progress in the country, which was
dominated by the military for nearly half a century.

A nominally-civilian government came to power last
year following controversial November 2010 elections and has
surprised observers with a number of positive moves including
a major release of political prisoners in January.

Quintana said the country must learn lessons from the
2010 poll, which was marred by widespread complaints of
cheating and the absence of Suu Kyi, who was under house
arrest at the time.

He said reports of "irregularities" and restrictions
on political party campaign activities "should be addressed
seriously" ahead of the April by-election.

Last week, Suu Kyi was greeted by tens of thousands of
supporters during her first trip outside Yangon since
declaring her intention to contest the polls.



First Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012 - 23:06

More from zeenews

 
comments powered by Disqus