An ambassador for the United Nations who had just spent the previous day in Geneva meeting with a major opposition figure warned on Saturday that holding elections in Myanmar without first engaging in a “inclusive political dialogue” runs the risk of making the country’s already volatile situation even more volatile.
Noeleen Heyzer, the outgoing United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, who will be stepping down on June 12th, stated that she met with Zin Mar Aung, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the National Unity Government in exile. Heyzer will step down on June 12th.
According to a statement released after the meeting that took place on Friday, the UN ambassador “warned against ongoing attempts by the Myanmar military to undermine democratic institutions and processes, such as the dissolution of opposition parties.”
Heyzer issued a warning that, “in the absence of inclusive political dialogue and conditions that permit citizens to freely exercise their rights, the military’s proposed elections risk exacerbating the violence.”
Heyzer believes that any discourse should center on the people living in areas that are impacted by conflict, namely women and young people.
Since the military took control in February 2021, Myanmar has been in a state of upheaval. This brought an end to the rule of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected administration, which was done in response to baseless charges of fraud in elections held the year prior.
Since then, the military has given the election commission, which is run by the junta, the directive to withhold new polls, which opponents argue cannot possibly be free or fair.
The “National League for Democracy Party” of Aung San Suu Kyi was disbanded by the commission because it did not conform with the new election regulations drafted by the military.
During the eighteen months that Heyzer was in office, she faced criticism from both the junta and its opponents.
It was in August of last year that she traveled to the Southeast Asian nation and met with the chief of the junta, Min Aung Hlaing, as well as other high-ranking military officials, a move that was criticized by rights groups for adding legitimacy to the generals.
However, she was not allowed to meet with Suu Kyi, the figurehead of the democracy movement who is currently being held in detention. This angered officials of the junta, who later accused her of presenting a “one-sided statement” of what had been discussed.