November 4, 2015 / 11:45 AM / in 2 years

Thousands rally in Myanmar as attacked candidate leaves hospital

Naing Ngan Lynn, a candidate for National League for Democracy (NLD) party who was attacked on Thursday evening, lies on a hospital bed as his wife takes care of him in Yangon General hospital in Yangon, Myanmar October 30, 2015.Soe Zeya Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - A Myanmar opposition lawmaker whose attack had raised fears of instability ahead of historic elections left the hospital on Wednesday, parading through the streets with thousands of cheering supporters.

Three men wielding machetes attacked Naing Ngan Lynn, a candidate for the Yangon regional assembly from the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and two other people in the commercial capital last week.

The attack raised concern about the security of a spirited but largely nonviolent two-month campaign ahead of voting on Sunday.

Naing Ngan Lynn emerged from Yangon General Hospital on Wednesday with both arms in casts and a deep gash down his forehead, to cheers from the party faithful.

"Supporters want to see me because they're worried. I want to show them that I'm well," he told Reuters.

Naing Ngan Lynn and other party officials later headed a convoy of hundreds of bicycles, trishaws and cars bedecked with the NLD's fighting peacock logo through a working class Yangon neighborhood, as thousands clapped and cheered from the sides.

NLD volunteers formed a human chain to protect party officials as the procession worked its way through the streets and Naing Ngan Lynn waved at the crowd.

Sunday's vote broadly pits the NLD against the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is largely made up of figures from the military junta that ruled the country for a half-century, before ceding power in 2011 to a semi-civilian government.

The election will be the first free national poll since 1990, which Suu Kyi's NLD won in a landslide but which was annulled by the military.

Separately, two U.N. advisers on the prevention of genocide and the "responsibility to protect" (R2P) civilians voiced concern about what they said was the "politicization of ethnicity and religion" in the election campaigning in Myanmar.

"The promotion of a political agenda that is based primarily on the protection of a particular religion or ethnic group is dangerous, particularly in a country as richly diverse as Myanmar," said genocide adviser Adama Dieng and R2P adviser Jennifer Welsh.

The statement said Dieng and Welsh were both concerned that the electoral process had further marginalized religious minorities, especially Rohingya Muslims.

Additional Reporting by Dan Epstein from the region and Louis Charbonneau in New York; Writing by Aubrey Belford; Editing by Robert Birsel, Bernard Orr

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