Myanmar vote ban dashes hope for ethnic minorities
For many marginalised ethnic minority groups in conflict-plagued regions of Myanmar, next month's national elections had at least offered a glimmer of hope for empowerment.
But a decision to exclude swathes of their homelands from the vote -- ostensibly over security concerns -- has instead filled them with anger and despair, with nearly two million people now disenfranchised.
Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) is widely expected to be returned to power in the November 8 polls -- only the second since the country emerged from outright military rule.
Last week the election commission announced a long list of constituencies where voting will not take place, leaving more than a million disenfranchised in Rakhine and hundreds of thousands more elsewhere.
One community in Rakhine state was notably unaffected by this latest decision, but only because they were already disenfranchised. Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims have had their citizenship and rights stripped away over decades.
In total nearly two million people of voting age will now be unable to cast a ballot -- about five percent of the electorate.
Other states across the country -- notably in Shan, Kachin and Karen -- have also been left reeling by the announcement.
Kachin State People's Party MP Dwe Bu accused the government of letting down ethnic minorities.
"We believed the NLD government would strive for democracy and work for the public," she said.
"But now, I feel they're even worse."