The upcoming elections represent a milestone in Myanmar’s transition to democracy, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on 29 September, adding that their credibility will depend on acceptance of its outcome among political leaders and the broader population, according to a UN statement.
“It is crucial that these proceed in a fair, inclusive and transparent atmosphere. This responsibility rests with the Government, the Union Election Commission and the Army, but also all sections of Myanmar society,” he said at a meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, held on the margins of the high-level segment of the United Nations General Assembly.
The public commitment by the Army leadership to ensure a free election and to respect its results must be honoured, Mr. Ban stated. Likewise, it is essential that the Government ensure a free and unfettered process for candidates and voters.
In addition, he noted that civil society needs space to carry out its work – and actions against media and activists as well as arbitrary arrests and detention must stop. “The authorities must ensure that all those who were able to vote in previous elections retain those rights,” Mr. Ban continued.
“I am deeply disappointed by this effective disenfranchisement of the Rohingya and other minority communities. Barring incumbent Rohingya parliamentarians from standing for re-election is particularly egregious,” he stated.
According to a read-out of the meeting, participating Member States noted the need for more decisive action on resolving the humanitarian situation in the camps for internally displaced persons and on the broader issues of citizenship for the Rohingya, adding that failure to do so could result in more suffering and loss of lives.
Concerns were expressed at the disenfranchisement of voters and rejection of candidatures, especially of Muslim representatives who had qualified for previous elections.
Ultimately, the credibility of the elections and smooth transfer of power will depend on acceptance of its results among the political leaders and the broader population within Myanmar, the read-out stated, echoing Mr. Ban, who noted that only this can ensure a smooth transfer of power.