Mon, Feb 09, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Rebels in Myanmar refuse to join polls

WIDESPREAD DISCONTENT The country’s military regime has fought more than a dozen ethnic minority-based insurgencies in its hinterlands for decades

DPA , BANGKOK

The Shan State Army (SSA) — an insurgent group in northeast Myanmar — has opposed the junta’s planned general election next year, joining a growing number of ethnic minority groups determined to upset the polls, media reports and analysts said yesterday.

Shan State Army leader Colonel Yod Serk said the SSA was one of at least 10 ethnic minority rebel groups that have come out against the 2010 general election, the Bangkok Post reported.

“The junta announced the upcoming election, but never let the opposing parties run in the race,” Yod Serk told the newspaper.

The rebel leader claimed even the United Wa State Army, a close ally of the Myanmar junta, was opposed to the upcoming election.

Growing opposition to the planned general election may force Myanmar’s ruling junta to delay the polls, analysts said yesterday.

“Besides the SSA, the New Mon State Party and Kachin Independence Organization have also come out against the polls,” said Aung Din, executive director for the US Campaign for Burma.

Myanmar’s military regime has fought more than a dozen ethnic minority-based insurgencies in its hinterlands for decades, although ceasefire agreements have been signed with most of them.

The junta included representatives of the ethnic minorities, representing almost half the population, in its constitution-drafting process, which took 14 years, but ignored their demands to establish a federation in a post-election period.

Instead, under the new Constitution, all rebels groups will be required to give up their arms and submit to the central government.

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