Thursday, February 11, 2010

Myanmar: Ethnic armies spurn elections

Source: Reuters Alertnet - Whether the country is ruled by brutal military dictators or democratically elected civilians, rebels who control this jungle enclave have made one thing very clear: they want nothing to do with Myanmar.

The country once known as Burma is preparing for its first elections in 20 years, the final step in a democratic "road map" it says will end almost half a century of unbroken army rule.

But the ethnic groups who have fought for more than 50 years to defend this mountainous region sandwiched between Thailand and China have little interest in the political process.

Myanmar, they say, has never been their country.

"We are Shan, we are not Burmese. We have a different language, a different culture," said Yawdmuang, the Shan State army's foreign affairs chief.

"We will not participate in elections -- they are their elections," he said.

The views of this group are echoed by other ethnic armies in Myanmar, which have also resisted the military regime's demands to disarm, transfer their fighters to a government-run Border Guard Force (BGF) and join the political process.

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