Burma Holds Elections this Weekend. Critics Say Poll is a Sham.
Burma holds its first parliamentary election in 20 years this weekend but critics say the poll is a façade.
At the last election two decades ago, the military junta decided the result was not to their liking and ignored it, locking up the women who should have became leader. Aung San Suu Kyi, who campaigns for democracy, remains under house arrest.
After decades of military rule, Burma has the lowest capita GPD in South East Asia
Nintey per cent of people live below the poverty line and political debate of any kind is not tolerated.
Some anti-government areas in the secretive nation have been barred from voting.
The National Democratic Force (NDF), an offshoot of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, is banned.
Dr. Than Nyein"You cannot hope the election to be free and fair by world standards. but at least we can have a civilian government in place of a military one and I think this is a great step forward."
From house arrest, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate recommended an election boycott.
NDF chaiman, Dr. Than Nyein, says some members want to run for elections despite Ms Suu Kyi’s call.
"You cannot hope the election to be free and fair by world standards," he said.
"But at least we can have a civilian government in place of a military one and I think this is a great step forward."
The old guard of Ms Suu Kyi's party, like former political prisoner of two decades Win Thin, refuse to participate in the poll on moral grounds.
"Burma is in a rather hot spot. It is in a hell of human rights violations," he said.
Win Thin"Burma is in a rather hot spot. It is in a hell of human rights violations,"
There has been an increase of violence in border areas where there has been a long-running war between ethnic groups and the Burmese military.
Reports of villages being attacked due to perceived affiliation with border rebels are also increasing.
Last week, Burma was struck with a cyclone in the western region killing at least 45 people, with 10 missing, and 50 injured. An estimated 200 000 people are affected by the cyclone. It is uncertain if this will have an effect on the election. The junta threatened it will cling to power if voters are absent from the poll.
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