Myanmar vote ban extinguishes hope for ethnic minorities
YANGON, Oct 24: For many marginalised ethnic minority groups in conflict-plagued regions of Myanmar, next month's national elections had at least offered a glimmer of hope for empowerment.
But a decision to exclude swathes of their homelands from the vote -- ostensibly over security concerns -- has instead filled them with anger and despair, with nearly two million people now disenfranchised.
Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) is widely expected to be returned to power in the November 8 polls -- only the second since the country emerged from outright military rule.
But the party faces waning support in many ethnic minority areas, where discontent has now intensified.
Last week the election commission announced a long list of constituencies where voting will not take place, leaving more than a million disenfranchised in Rakhine and hundreds of thousands more elsewhere.
"This is devastating," said Hla Maung Oo, an ethnic Rakhine and head of one of many camps for displaced people in his state.
"I'm depressed by the decision, because I knew who I was going to vote for from the beginning." Tensions in Rakhine were high even before the move. -AFP