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UN rights extends Myanmar investigator mandate

23rd March 2012, Comments0 comments


The UN Human Rights Council on Friday extended the mandate of its investigator on Myanmar for a year, and urged the government to ensure that April's by-elections are free and fair.

The resolution tabled by the European Union was adopted by consensus by the 47-member council, although China and Russia stood up to disassociate themselves from the statement.

Myanmar also dismissed it, saying it contained "unfounded allegations of human rights violations."

"These are one-sided allegations and sheer fabrications aimed at undermining" reforms undertaken in the country, said a Myanmar envoy.

The resolution acknowledged the "positive developments in Myanmar" including the government's engagement with opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the release of "large numbers" of political prisoners.

Nevertheless, it noted that some remained detained, and urged Myanmar to release the remaining political prisoners, "without delay or conditions, and to allow their full participation in the political process."

The Council also "urges the government of Myanmar to ensure that the April 1 by-elections are free, transparent and fair."

A November 2010 election in Myanmar which swept the army's political allies to power was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and intimidation.

But the regime has since surprised observers with a slew of reforms including welcoming the opposition back into mainstream politics, signing ceasefire deals with ethnic minority rebels and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

As a result, the United States and the European Union have lifted some sanctions on the regime.

The April 1 polls, which will see Suu Kyi stand for a seat in parliament for the first time in a constituency near Yangon, are viewed as a key test of the new government's commitment to reform.


© 2012 AFP

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