WASHINGTON — A top advisor to US President Barack Obama on Thursday made a final appeal for a credible, inclusive and transparent election in Burma, reiterating that US engagement hinges on a successful Nov. 8 poll.
“If the election itself is not credible or if the results of the election are not respected, clearly that is going to [make it] harder for us,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told an audience in Washington, DC.
Rhodes concluded his fourth visit to Burma on Oct. 20, conducting “one last check” before the country heads to the polls in what is expected to be the freest and fairest election in decades.
The presidential aide and speechwriter said Burmese officials were well aware that the international community would be watching the polls closely, and urged the Union Election Commission (UEC) to continue collaborating with international monitors.
“Our message is, with respect to the election, that first of all it is very important for the government that the election commission continues its co-operation with the international monitors,” Rhodes said.
Continued engagement with the United States, which restored diplomatic relations with Burma in 2012, would bring economic benefit and closer political ties, Rhodes said, but that relationship is contingent upon polls that pass muster in the eyes of the Burmese electorate, officials and the international community.
“They [Burmese officials] know well that if things go well, then the international community sees this as a step forward,” he said. “There is a lot of economic benefit for Burma if the election goes in a positive way and if it seen as a step forward towards democratic transition.”