With general elections in Myanmar a little over a month away, the nation’s leading Catholic Church prelate is urging his countrymen to choose candidates and parties that promote a culture of democracy, human rights and reconciliation. In a written appeal addressed to "all Myanmar people,” Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon said citizens need to make the forthcoming elections of Nov, 8 a true exercise of democracy, which he described as "a long and arduous journey." "Voting is a fundamental right in a democracy. Please fulfill your sacred duty in this election. Please go to the booth. Vote for the right candidates of your choice," the cardinal urged in his appeal released on Sept. 24. "The election is a great window of opportunity for this nation,” he said, adding, "peace and prosperity are the fruits of a free and fair election."
Days ahead of the appeal, the prelate told UCANEWS that he wanted to urge people to vote wisely because this was a very important time for the country, which needs to be changed. "The system that has been ruled by old elites didn't bring any change. So people need to be aware of who will bring real change," said Myanmar’s first cardinal. In the past, the cardinal has spoken out on human rights issues, including the treatment of ethnic Rohingya Muslims who are regularly denied citizenship and basic social services.
In the appeal, Cardinal Bo offers 10 guidelines on what they should look out for in worthy candidates. These include the ability to work with "different ethnic groups and religions" in the Buddhist-majority country, and safeguarding the country's nature and natural resources against foreign powers. In the interview, Cardinal Bo said some may colour his guidelines as "an attack" on the current government, but he said he needed to speak out as it is the true situation of the country. The 67-year-old cardinal said that the Church can contribute to the country by offering guidance to the faithful at Mass, and by distributing pamphlets outside church services. (Source: UCAN)
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