ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
UN chief tells Myanmar to free prisoners
The Southeast Asian country's military rulers have enacted laws that prevent pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners from contesting the elections, which have been slammed by critics as a sham.
This is the closest that Ban has come to criticizing the elections after repeatedly taking a diplomatic tone by urging the junta to make the elections more inclusive, fair and credible. But even his latest comments were tempered by hope that the junta would surprise everybody by making some concessions to the pro-democracy movement in a country that has been ruled by the military since 1962.
The junta has kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years. She is expected to be released on Nov. 13, just six days after the election.
The junta has touted the elections as a big step forward in the country's so-called roadmap to democracy. But the results are considered a foregone conclusion, as the junta has already taken steps to block transparency and ensure that the military remains in power by repressing the country's main opposition party and limiting campaigning.
Suu Kyi's party is boycotting the elections as undemocratic after winning a landslide victory in 1990 that was dismissed by the military leaders.
That leaves the key junta-backed party as the only strong contender to win the upcoming contest.
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