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Myanmar tells ethnic minorities to join elections

Myanmar's ethnic minorities and their militias should give up their arms and honour past agreements to enter politics, the country's state-controlled media said.

world Updated: Sep 17, 2009 21:54 IST

Myanmar's ethnic minorities and their militias should give up their arms and honour past agreements to enter politics, the country's state-controlled media said on Wednesday.

The commentary in the three state-run national newspapers came amid uncertainty over whether the ethnic groups will participate in elections called by the military junta next year. Critics say the elections are a sham designed to cement the military's grip on power.

After reaching peace pacts with the military in the past two decades, ethnic armed groups have been allowed a limited amount of autonomy in their areas, which are along the country's borders. But they question whether a constitution promulgated last year ensures their rights.

The commentary said the ethnic minorities agreed under the ceasefires to abandon their arms once a constitution came into force and join politics in the interest of their people and regions.

Seventeen armed ethnic groups have reached cease-fire agreements with the government since 1989.

"Peace groups will have to honour the commitments they made during the peace talks," the commentary said.

In an apparent effort to ensure stability ahead of the polls, the government has told the ethnic groups they will have to integrate their militias into a national border guard force.