No need for foreign election observers, says Myanmar junta

2010-05-12 12:57

Myanmar has no need for foreign observers to monitor its first

elections in two decades, state media reported today, despite international

concerns that the polls will lack legitimacy.


According to the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, the chairman of

the country’s election body, Thein Soe, said: “International watchdog groups do

not need to come. Arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair

elections.”


Election candidates will be allowed to appoint a representative and

helper to observe polling stations and the ballots are to be counted in front of

the voters, Thein Soe said.


Critics say the polls are aimed at simply entrenching the ruling

generals’ power.


Campbell met several government ministers and opposition leaders,

including detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, during his two-day visit to

the military-ruled country.


He said following his talks that the United States was “profoundly

disappointed” in the junta’s preparations for the upcoming elections and wanted

“immediate steps” to address fears that they would lack legitimacy.


Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) was forcibly

dissolved last week under widely criticised laws governing the elections, which

are scheduled for some time later this year.


The NLD refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a party

– a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader – and boycotted the

vote.


Under election legislation unveiled in March, anyone serving a

prison term is banned from being a member of a political party and parties that

fail to obey the rule will be abolished.


A faction within the NLD has said it would form a new political

party, to be called the National Democratic Force, to run in the election in a

bid to advance the movement’s two-decade campaign to end military rule.


State media said 36 groups had registered as political parties

under the election law, of which 31 have been approved.

 

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