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.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is campaigning across the country, wrapped up several days of political rallies on Tuesday in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, where the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has clashed with government troops since early September.
“The 2015 election is a chance for us to build a democratic country which our hero General Aung San wanted,” said Tin Oo, deputy leader and co-founder of the pro-democracy party said, referring to Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, architect of the country’s independence from Britain, who was assassinated in 1947.
“It is time for a change,” he said.
Tin Oo spent almost seven years in prison and under house arrest under the military junta that ruled the country before 2011, when current President Thein Sein became head of a quasi-military government.
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