Myanmar junta plans October national census

AFP || Shining BD

Published: 5/14/2024 6:51:06 AM

Yangon, Myanmar – A top Myanmar general has called for a national census to take place in October, state media reported Tuesday, even as swathes of the country remain outside the junta’s control. 

The military has justified its 2021 coup with unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in 2020 elections won resoundingly by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

Military officials have said a national census must be completed before fresh elections, which junta-backed politicians have hinted could come in 2025.

Junta number two Soe Win made the comments during a visit to commercial hub Yangon on Monday, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

He “stressed that preparations must be made for enumerating the population and household census across the nation from 1 to 15 October 2024,” the newspaper said.

Officials in Yangon “reported on the progress of… preparations for collection of the census,” it said, without giving further details.

Last October, the junta said it was carrying out a pilot census in selected townships in the military-built capital Naypyidaw, the Mandalay and Bago regions, and Karen state.

Critics say the census will be used to step up monitoring of opponents of its coup, including thousands of civil servants, doctors and teachers who have not returned to work in protest.

The Southeast Asian country remains deeply divided by conflict, with civilians caught up in near-daily bomb blasts, targeted killings and clashes between the military and opponents of its coup.

The military has acknowledged it does not fully control swathes of the country and in February activated a long-dormant conscription law.

The United States has said any elections under the junta would be a “sham”, while analysts say polls would be targeted by the military’s opponents and spark further bloodshed.

Russia, a close ally of the isolated junta, has said it backs the generals’ plan for polls.

Shining BD