460,000 in Wa state not voting

Close to half a million people in the Wa special region in Shan state will not be voting today after polling there was scrapped by the junta.

Voting has been scrapped in a number of areas under rebel control in Burma’s volatile border regions, with an estimated 3,400 villages home to 1.5 million people affected.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA), which controls the majority of territory in Wa state, had said that voting could be held there, but no Burmese army presence was allowed. As a result, the junta has ruled out elections.

“Townships in Wa-controlled Shan state Special Region-1 – Panghsang, Mongmaw, Pangwaun and Namphan – cannot vote,” the UWSA said in a statement released yesterday. Consequently, “460,000 Wa people” are excluded.

It added that the 30,000-strong UWSA, Burma’s largest armed ethnic group, which signed a ceasefire agreement with the junta in 1989, “will discuss with the new government after elections”.

The majority of Burma’s ceasefire groups have rejected a proposal by the junta to transform into Border Guard Forces, a move that will see them come under the control of Naypyidaw. The ruling generals have threatened force against those who refuse.

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