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Burma to consider Asean poll monitors: Thein Sein

(Mizzima) – Burma may relent and allow Asean poll observers to monitor the April 1 by-election, something that it said in the past was not needed.

Voters take time off from work to cast ballots at a polling station  in Myoma State High School No. 2 in Pyi East Ward, Dagon Township, Rangoon. Photo: MizzimaBurmese President Thein Sein, while not agreeing to let international observers in, said the government would “seriously consider” allowing Southeast Asian poll watches inside the reclusive country, which is conducting only its second nationwide election in two decades.

The April 1 polls, which will see Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi stand for a seat in Parliament, will be a key test in the country’s efforts to have western sanctions removed, and removal is dependent on a “free and fair” election.

On Monday, the opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said in a press conference that a Burmese minister was preventing it from conduction a free and fair political campaign. The country’s Election Commission, on the same day, reversed the minister’s orders prohibiting the NLD access to book sports stadiums for campaign events.

Asean released a statement on Tuesday that said Thein Sein made his remark to visiting Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan during talks in the capital Naypyitaw on Tuesday.

“We will seriously consider having observers from Asean ... during the April elections,” Thein Sein was quoted as saying.

Suu Kyi’s NLD party said the turnaround by authorities was “very significant.”

The NLD won a landslide victory in an election in 1990, but the then-ruling junta never allowed the party to take power. The new military-dominated government, which includes many former generals, has assured visiting U.S. and E.U. officials that the by-election would be democratic.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 February 2012 16:39 )  

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