No delay on vote in cyclone-hit region

A request to delay voting for the 7 November elections in areas of western Burma devastated by cyclone Giri has been ignored by the ruling junta.

According to UN estimates, more than 170,000 people have been affected by the cyclone, which hit the Arakan state coastline on 22 October. Some 70,000 were left homeless, and up to 100 killed.

Dr Aye Maung, chairman of Rakhine [Arakan] Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) said that no response had yet been given to the request, which was filed on 27 October.

The party, which is campaigning in the affected areas for the controversial elections, has asked for the vote to be delayed by one month in constituencies in the worst-hit Myebon, Kyaukphyu, Munaung and Pauktaw townships.

The junta delayed by several weeks voting for the constitution in May 2008 in areas hit by cyclone Nargis, which eventually claimed some 140,000 lives.

Also competing in Arakan state is the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is fielding 1112 candidates in the 1158 constituencies across Burma compared to the 44 put forward by the RNDP.

The pro-junta National Unity Party (NUP) and Rakhine State National Force of Myanmar Party are also competing there.

Reports have surfaced claiming that 200 people are ill and four have died after dysentery broke out in the cyclone-hit region last week, which is struggling to receive aid.

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