– VOA News
Burmese officials say some ethnic minority areas will not be allowed to vote in the November 7 poll because the atmosphere there is not conducive to a “free and fair” election.
State media reported Thursday that more than 200 villages will be excluded from the general election. The villages are in the ethnic minority states of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan, which are home to armed rebel groups.
Ethnic groups in those areas have long been at odds with the country’s military government. Human rights organizations have accused Burma’s military of grave abuses of minority rights.
This is Burma’s first election in 20 years. But pro-democracy groups say the voting is a sham designed to put a civilian face on continued military control.
Earlier this week, Burmese officials dissolved 10 political parties, including the country’s main opposition party, for failing to register for the election on time. Thirty-seven parties are now registered to compete in the voting.
Opposition parties say they have not been able to enter as many candidates as they want because of restrictive election laws and high registration fees.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed again to Burmese authorities to ensure that the elections are fully inclusive.
Burma’s voters will elect 498 people to a national parliament, and another 664 will be spread among 14 regional legislatures.