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Myanmar: “Sunday’s by-elections, key test of democratic reform process,” says UN expert

GENEVA (30 March 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said that Myanmar’s by-elections on 1 April will be a key test of progress made by the Government in its process of reform. In the coming polls, 48 parliamentary seats will be contested.

“This is a crucial moment in Myanmar’s history,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said, recalling his latest report* to the Human Rights Council. “I have consistently stressed that the next round of elections should be truly free, fair, inclusive and transparent, but the credibility of Sunday’s vote will not be determined solely on the day, but in the lead-up to and following election day.”

The Special Rapporteur has been encouraged by the recent wave of democratic reforms in the country that has had a positive impact on the situation of human rights, including the release of a significant number of prisoners of conscience and the re-registration of a number of political parties.

However, noting concerns about reported electoral irregularities, the independent expert called on the authorities to show clear political will to achieve a peaceful and professionally administered electoral process in order to establish public confidence and legitimacy for its democratic transition. He also urged the Government to ensure respect for freedom of expression, opinion, assembly and association.

“The flawed electoral process of the 2010 national elections, which failed to meet international standards, was a missed opportunity for Myanmar to address its challenges in democratisation. It should not be repeated as Myanmar enters a new and more open era,” the Special Rapporteur underscored.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s latest report to the Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/A-HRC-19-67_en.pdf

ENDS

Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana (Argentina) was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2008. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

For additional information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/mm/mandate/index.htm

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Maureen Teo (+41 22 928 89113 / mteo@ohchr.org) or write to sr-myanmar@ohchr.org

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