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NEWS UPDATES 17 September 2010

Many can't vote in Myanmar

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Myanmar is not allowing voting in insurgency-plagued ethnic areas in its first election in two decades - a move that removes voting rights for millions in a poll that has already been seen as undemocratic.

State media announced late on Thursday that around 300 villages across Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan states would be excluded from the November 7 election because conditions are not in place for a 'free and fair' vote.

One Shan leader, who did not want to be named, estimated that in that state alone about two million people - around 30 percent of the population - would not get the opportunity to vote. The army that has ruled since 1962, has long fought to control the country's ethnic rebel groups, some of whom have waged decades-long armed uprisings.

The entire region in Shan state controlled by the military wing of the ethnic Wa, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), has been excluded from the vote, the Shan leader said.

Other groups operating in the affected areas include the Kachin Independence Army, the Shan State Army and the Karen National Liberation Army.

The NLD won a landslide victory in 1990 but the junta never allowed it to take office.

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