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Burma to allow a small number of Asean election monitors

(Mizzima) – With 11 days to go before the Burmese election, the government has agreed to allow 23 Asean representatives to observe the crucial by-election voting process, which could determine whether international countries will continue to ease sanctions. It is not known if the number of election monitors would be sufficient to verify a free and fair election, or whether it is a token gesture on the part of Burmese and Asean officials.

     A polling station on November 7, 2010, in Myintkyina the capital of Kachin state. Photo: MizzimaThe delegates will include two MPs from each member state plus media representatives. International election monitors are seen as crucial in determining if the election is fair and transparent.  Forty-eight seats in Parliament are being contested in the April 1 vote – the country’s second election in two decades.

“We welcome the good news that observers will be allowed to monitor the by-election,” said Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

It will “help ensure a free and fair election.” Nyan Win said. However, he added that there have been alleged campaign abuses in almost every constituency where the NLD is competing.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is seeking a seat in Parliament from a poor Rangoon suburb, said last week the campaign process is in jeopardy of being declared unfair because of government interference in obtaining campaign venues, unfair campaigning in which government-backed candidates are pressuring villagers for support and other incidents.

The NLD’s evaluation of the fairness of the election is critical for the military-backed government if it is to be declared fair and transparent. Suu Kyi and the other 46 NLD candidates have lent the by-election an aura of credibility, which appears to be threatened by recent campaign obstacles and incidents.

Suu Kyi’s NLD party was denied its landslide victory in the 1990 election, leading to military rule, which ended with the installation of a nominally civilian government in March 2011. The 2010 election was widely condemned as rigged by military officials.

Burma’s decision was announced by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The U.S., European Union and the United Nations have called the polls "a key test" of the government's commitment to reforms.

The government has made no official comment about the vote monitors.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 March 2012 20:08 )  

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