Burma's first election in twenty years
Burma's first election in twenty years will be held on November 7, the junta announced today.
The Election Commission made a brief statement on the radio and television announcing the poll date. It also called on political parties to submit their candidate lists between August 16 and August 30.
Detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, together with more than 2,500 political prisoners, have been barred from taking part in the election. Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide majority in the 1990 election, the result of which was not honoured by the junta. The National League for Democracy is boycotting the November polls, declaring them to be both "undemocratic and unfair".
Meanwhile, Burma's ruling generals have created a powerful civilian organisation called the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). The organisation has recently been transformed into a political party under the leadership of Thein Sein - the military's prime minister. The USDA, known in Burma as "The White Shirts", is notorious for numerous acts of political violence. It has a culture of lawlessness and thuggish behavior, particularly among the youth members, that has already resulted in several violent attacks on members of the pro-democracy movement.