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Monday
Nov082010

Burma/Myanmar Update: Low Turnout, Criticism for Election 

Reports from Burma indicate that many voters heeded opposition calls to boycott Sunday's election, with two military-back parties certain to win most of the Parliamentary contests.

The vote took place amid tight security, with barbed wire and officers in body armour carrying assault rifles at major polling locations, and a ban on foreign reporters and election monitors. The Guardian of London, despite the ban, was able to tour 20 stations in Rangoon. The newspaper claimed that many were empty throughout the day. An official from the Asian Network for Free Elections said the overall voter turnout was less than 50%, with less than 30% in several regions.

The official count has been hampered by power cuts, and there is no indication when results will be announced. Several opposition parties have said they will not recognize the results unless the count is transparent.

The political branch of the ruling junta, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, and the National Unity Party, whose candidates are mainly retired generals, have fielded more than 2,100 of the 3,000 candidates. A quarter of the seats in Parliament are reserved for military appointees, irrespective of the outcome.

The largest opposition party is fielding only 163 candidates, and the banned National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi and the winner of Burma's last election in 1990, which won the 1990 vote, called on supporters to boycott.

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