YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar will hold a national census late next year, state media reported yesterday, hinting at another delay in elections the junta has pledged to hold to end the crisis sparked by its coup.
The country has been in turmoil since the army’s power grab in 2021, with a subsequent crackdown on dissent sparking fighting between military and anti-coup forces across swathes of the nation.
The “census will be taken simultaneously throughout the country” from October 1-15, 2024, immigration and population minister U Myint Kyaing was reported as saying by the Global New Light of Myanmar.
Junta Vhief Min Aung Hlaing had previously said a national census would be required to ensure voting lists in the country of some 54 million were “accurate”, suggesting a census would precede any election.
He also said fresh polls could only be held when the country was “stable”.
In February, the junta announced a six-month extension to a two-year state of emergency, delaying elections it said it would hold by August. The military justified its February 2021 power grab with unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in 2020 elections that the party of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi won in a landslide.
Observers said any fresh poll could not be free and fair under the present circumstances.
The junta in December wrapped up a series of closed-court trials of Suu Kyi, jailing its longtime enemy for a total of 33 years in a process rights groups condemned as a sham.