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Burma: Junta To Hold Elections In 2010

Burma: Junta To Hold Elections in 2010

Burma's ruling military junta will hold a referendum in May on the constitution it is drafting. It will be followed by a multi-party election in 2010. Yesterday's announcement, which came in the form of a statement signed by the junta's Secretary (1), Lt Gen Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, was broadcast on state-run television.

The Burmese junta outlined a seven-point roadmap to democracy in 2003, but with no time frame attached. It took 14 years to complete the first step of the roadmap - the National Convention.

While the announcement is the first ever time frame given by the junta on the different stages of its roadmap, it is largely seen as a move to appease both internal and international opponents of the regime. The announcement comes four months after the junta's brutal crackdown on Buddhist monk-led protesters in Rangoon, and follows the violent suppression of student-led demonstrations in 1988, in which thousands were killed.

Burma held its last multi-party elections in 1990, but the ruling generals refused to honour the results and continue to cling to power. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) - the party that won a landslide victory in the 1990 election - is still under house arrest.

Late last month, Aung San Suu Kyi said she was not satisfied by the outcome of recent meetings held with military rulers, and expressed concern that the talks might raise false hopes of political reform. She repeated demands that any dialogue must involve pro-democracy groups and representatives of Burma's ethnic groups.

Saturday's announcement from the junta did not make clear whether the NLD would be allowed to participate in the forthcoming elections.


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