UN envoy calls for political dialogue in Myanmar before polls

A day after meeting with a prominent opposition member in Geneva, a UN envoy warned on Saturday that holding elections without a “inclusive political dialogue” runs the risk of escalating bloodshed in Myanmar.

The National Unity Government in exile’s foreign affairs minister, Zin Mar Aung, was visited with by Noeleen Heyzer, the departing UN special envoy for Myanmar, who will leave her post on June 12.

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In the Friday meeting, the UN envoy “warned against ongoing attempts by the Myanmar military to undermine democratic institutions and processes, such as the dissolution of opposition parties”, a statement said.

Heyzer warned “the military’s proposed elections risk exacerbating the violence in the absence of inclusive political dialogue and conditions that permit citizens to freely exercise their rights”.

Heyzer said that any discussion should center on those living in conflict zones, particularly women and young people.

Since the military overthrew the elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021 over unfounded allegations of election fraud, Myanmar has been in upheaval.

Since then, the military has given the junta-controlled election commission the duty of conducting new elections, which detractors claim cannot possibly be free or fair.

The “National League for Democracy Party,” which Suu Kyi founded, was disbanded by the committee for violating newly established electoral regulations created by the military.

Heyzer has faced criticism from the junta and its opponents during her 18-month term.

When she visited the country in August of last year, rights organizations criticized her meeting with Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the junta, and other key military officials as endorsing the generals.

She later irritated junta officials who said she gave a “one-sided statement” about what had been discussed after being denied a meeting with jailed democracy leader Suu Kyi.

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