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ICC Note: Perhaps this pledge of the opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) is just a political promise before an election, but at least the NLD has stated its intention to protect equal rights for all — something that the current administration has not done very well in Myanmar.  If ethnic and religious minorities respond and vote in this crucial election in a few weeks, they could make the difference in the outcome.

By Myo Zaw Ko

10/05/2015 Myanmar (Radio Free Asia)

Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party will ensure equal rights for all nationalities and religions in the predominantly Buddhist country if it wins the general elections next month, a party official said Tuesday.

“The NLD pledges to protect equal rights for every nationality and religion if it wins in the November elections,” said Win Htein, an NLD Central Executive Committee member and aide to party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, at an election education talk in Yangon.

The party used the opportunity to introduce parliamentary candidates Than Naing Oo, Soe Pa Pa Hlaing, Ba Myo Thein and Khin Saw Wai to the public.

The pledge came following a declaration by prominent monk Wirathu of the Ma Ba Tha nationalist Buddhist group that the group will endorse the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in the Nov. 8 elections.

The hardline group recently publicly celebrated the passage of four controversial Protection of Race and Religion Laws purporting to protect the Buddhist religion, which raised fears about the intermingling of religion with politics before the elections in a country that has suffered major interreligious violence in recent years.

Earlier this year, authorities denied voting rights to thousands of Rohingya Muslims after parliament banned people without full citizenship from participating in the elections.

Furthermore, Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC), the body responsible for the polls in the upcoming general elections, has largely excluded Muslim candidates based on their failure to meet citizenship requirements.

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