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UN envoy calls for political dialogue in Myanmar before polls

AFP . Geneva
04 Jun 2023 10:19:22 | Update: 04 Jun 2023 14:43:38
UN envoy calls for political dialogue in Myanmar before polls
United Nations Special Envoy on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer (C) visits a Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhia on August 23, 2022 — AFP Photo

Organising elections without an "inclusive political dialogue" risks worsening violence in Myanmar, said a UN envoy on Saturday, a day after meeting a leading opposition figure in Geneva. 

The outgoing UN special envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer, who steps down on June 12, said she met with Zin Mar Aung, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the National Unity Government in exile. 

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 dialogue should focus on people in conflict-affected areas -- including women and youth.

Myanmar has faced turmoil since the military seized power in February 2021, ending the rule of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government over unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in elections the previous year.

The military has since tasked the junta-dominated election commission with holding fresh polls, which opponents say cannot possibly be free or fair. 

The commission dissolved Suu Kyi's party, the "National League for Democracy Party", for failing to comply with new election rules drawn up by the military.

During her 18-month tenure, Heyzer has been criticised by the junta and its opponents.

She visited the Southeast Asian nation last August and met junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top military officials in a move criticised by rights groups as lending legitimacy to the generals.

But she was denied a meeting with detained democracy figurehead Suu Kyi and later irked junta officials who accused her of issuing a "one-sided statement" of what had been discussed.