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Burmese media Thursday said a number of areas in five insurgency-plagued ethnic-minority states would not participate in upcoming elections as conditions are not in place for a “free and fair” vote.
State radio and television listed around 300 villages across Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Mon and Shan states that would be excluded from the poll.
In Shan state, four townships will now not take part in the country’s first election for 20 years.
“The multiparty general election on 7th of November 2010 will not be held in the following places as there is no condition to hold a free and fair election,” state media announced before listing the areas involved.
While there was no specific mention of security concerns, the states involved are home to rebel groups, including the Kachin Independence Organisation, Shan State Army and the Karen National Union. Amongst the excluded areas notable townships included the border town of Myawaddy, and nearby Kawkreik in Karen state. Pangshan, capital of the Wa autonomous region and Mongla in the Kokang area, both near the Chinese border.
Burma’s military, which has ruled the country since 1962, has long fought to bring minority groups under its control.
Civil war has wracked the country since independence in 1948 and, while most rebel groups have reached ceasefire deals with the junta, observers have said the state’s determination to crush them has increased as elections loomed.
The regime launched offensives against ethnic Chinese Kokang rebels in the northeast in August 2009 and the Christian Karen insurgents in June last year.
Authorities are believed to be trying to avoid confrontation with the public ahead of the country’s first election since 1990, which has been criticised by activists and the West as a charade to put a civilian face on junta rule.
The military has banned civilians from holding any weapons and strictly controls press and other freedoms to maintain its grip on power.
Earlier this week state media confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) had been disbanded after its decision to boycott the election, citing rules that would have forced it to eject its leader.