30 Oct 2015

Opposition rally attacked with swords in Myanmar

12:10 pm on 30 October 2015

An opposition rally in Myanmar has been attacked by men wielding knives and swords, just over a week before a historic election.

A National League for Democracy supporter holds the party flag (file photograph).

A National League for Democracy supporter holds the party flag (file photograph). Photo: AFP

The National League for Democracy (NLD) was holding a rally in Yangon city.

Details are still emerging but the NLD candidate for the area, a sitting MP, was rushed to hospital.

Witnesses told the BBC's Jonah Fisher several men, some armed with swords, interrupted the opposition rally in Thaketa township on Thursday.

The poll on 8 November is set to be the country's first openly contested general election in 25 years.

The NLD is expected to win the most seats.

The candidate for the NLD, Naing Ngan Lin, was immediately taken to hospital with head and hand injuries. His wife said he was passing in and out of consciousness.

Several people have been arrested.

Public threats had been made before the rally warning the opposition to cancel, but they were ignored.

The violence comes ten days before Myanmar's election and three days before NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due to hold a large rally, also in Yangon.

Ms Suu Kyi has vowed to lead the country if the NLD comes to power in the upcoming election.

This is despite the fact that she is constitutionally barred from the presidency because her two sons are foreign citizens.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, does not have a prime minister and the president, who is voted on by parliament after the election, serves as both head of state and head of government.

Ms Suu Kyi's party last took part in a nationwide election in 1990, winning a landslide. But the result was ignored by the military, which kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) swept the 2010 polls, which were boycotted by the NLD, which alleged widespread fraud.


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