Monday, April 15, 2024
Homese asiaMyanmar junta, Russia agree on election ‘cooperation’

Myanmar junta, Russia agree on election ‘cooperation’

YANGON – Myanmar’s junta and Russia have signed a memorandum on “cooperation in election activities”, the state media reported on Wednesday, as both governments plan for polls that critics say will be neither free nor fair.

Moscow is a close ally of the junta, providing arms and diplomatic support as Myanmar’s military struggles to crush armed opposition to its February 2021 coup.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing met Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2022 during one of several trips to Russia since seizing power. The Myanmar military has described Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as “justified”.

Officials from Myanmar’s junta-stacked election commission signed a “memorandum of understanding for cooperation in election activities” with their Russian counterparts during a recent visit to Russia, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The delegation “also explored Russia’s election methods, conditions for conducting elections, campaign procedures”, the newspaper said.

The head of Russia’s election commission also invited Myanmar to observe the presidential election scheduled for 2024.

That vote is expected to prolong Mr Putin’s rule until at least 2030, with many of his critics in jail or in exile.

Myanmar’s military has justified its putsch with unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election won resoundingly by Ms Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

The junta will likely hold fresh polls in 2025, a senior official from a military-backed party told AFP earlier in September.

The United States has said any elections under the junta would be a “sham” and analysts say they would be targeted by the military’s opponents.

Russia has said it backs the generals’ plan for polls.

Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD – which has trounced military-backed parties in every election it has fought – was dissolved earlier in 2023 for failing to re-register under tough new military-drafted electoral rules.

The coup ended a 10-year democratic experiment and plunged the country into turmoil.

Fighting between the military and its opponents has displaced almost two million people, according to the United Nations. AFP

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