UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Myanmar's process for its first national elections in two decades is deeply flawed, an independent United Nations human rights expert said Thursday.
Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, told reporters in New York "conditions for the general elections are limited under the current circumstances," casting doubt on their potential "to bring meaningful change."
A day earlier, he had reported to the United Nations that freedom of expression and assembly have been further restricted through the implementation of election laws, while party registration requirements and the high cost of registering candidates have hampered parties not backed by the government.
"It is clear that the process has not been inclusive," Quintana said in a release.
"I believe that the Myanmar government needs to send a strong signal to the international community about its commitment to hold genuine elections, and the unconditional and immediate release of prisoners of conscience would be such a signal."
Myanmar's military government said Monday it will not let foreign media cover next month's election. Only diplomats and representatives of U.N. organizations based in the country can observe the Nov. 7 vote, election commission Chairman Thein Soe told Radio France Internationale.