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Myanmar still in transition, envoy says

Oct. 24, 2013 at 10:33 AM

BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Ethnic groups vying for more authority in Myanmar are frustrated by the political structure in the Asian country, a human rights envoy said.

The Kachin independence movement in Myanmar said it would scale down its fighting after reaching a peace agreement with the central government in mid-October. Conflict in the restive northern state of Kachin has overshadowed political reforms made in Myanmar. The seven-point agreement, however, fell short of a formal cease-fire agreement.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special envoy to Myanmar, told the United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Networks from Buenos Aires some of the ethnic communities are wary of their prospects.

"They have reservations in terms of the political structure of the country, which currently does not [allow] ethnic groups the participation they would like to have [in governing themselves], and regarding their [own political autonomy]," he was quoted as saying in an interview published Wednesday.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, earned praise for political reforms made since general elections in 2010. The envoy described the current government as a civilian-led administration transitioning to a democracy.

"As a human rights rapporteur, I would not say that it is a democracy yet," he said. "Democracy will take a long time."

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