UN chief backs call for 'inclusive' Burma election

A poster of Burma's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Image caption Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the last two decades in some form of detention

Burma's upcoming elections will not be credible without the release of political prisoners, including democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said.

Mr Ban was speaking after a ministerial meeting in New York of the so-called "Group of Friends" of Burma.

He said the group had called for a "more inclusive" poll on 7 November.

Ms Suu Kyi's party won Burma's last election in 1990 but was never allowed to take power by the ruling junta.

The November poll is part of the junta's long-announced "roadmap to democracy", but critics have dismissed it as a sham designed to keep the military in power.

'Stability and development'

Mr Ban said after Monday's meeting behind the closed doors that the ministers had reiterated the need for the election process to be "more inclusive, participatory and transparent".

"Members called for steps to be taken for the release of political detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

"This is essential for the election to be seen as credible and contribute to Myanmar's stability and development," the UN chief said.

Burma - whose representatives did not attend the meeting - has not publicly responded to Mr Ban's comments.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) was forcibly disbanded in May, under the new election laws.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent most of the last two decades in some form of detention and is currently under house arrest in Rangoon.

The "Group of Friends" of Burma includes Australia, the UK, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the US, Vietnam and the EU.

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