UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Myanmar government to address the citizenship status of Rohingya Muslims ahead of elections planned for later this year, reports the Voice of America on April 24.
Ban told regional officials in a meeting at the United Nations office that the ongoing communal tensions in the country's western Rakhine state could be "seriously destabilizing."
Rakhine States has seen deadly clashes between Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya, many of whom are stateless.
"There are already troubling signs of ethnic and religious differences being exploited in the run-up to the elections," Ban said, according to VOA, adding that the reform process could be jeopardized if the underlying causes of tensions were not addressed.
The Myanmar government does not recognize the existence of the Rohingya ethnicity. Government officials, and many locals, view Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The government has rejected demands for citizenship for the Rohingya but has expressed a willingness to consider citizenship for those who will identify as Bengali.