Burmese vote in national elections

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November 7, 2010 21:24

A Burmese woman casting her vote in Yangon. Photo - AP

Who: People of the Union of Myanmar, also known as, Burma.

What: The military junta of Burma held the first ever national elections in 20 years in the country. Main opposition parties, including National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi, boycotted the vote.

Where: Voting took place in around 40,000 polling stations spread across the country’s seven states and seven regions. According to Alternative Asean Network on Burma, elections were cancelled in more than 47% villages in insurgency-hit Karen state. Cancellations also took place in Kachin, Karennai, Moi and Shan states where separatist rebels are fighting for autonomy.

When: The polls closed in the evening on 7 November.

Why: Burmese military junta insisted on state television that the election was conducted “with a full sense of inclusiveness” and the country’s rulers were “handing over sovereign power to the people, which is the ultimate owner”. Some analysts believe that despite its flaws, the election is set to create a framework for a democratic system that might yield changes in years ahead. The military has ruled the country since 1962 and has squandered Myanmar’s vast natural resources through economic mismanagement and army-run monopolies.

How: Thirty-seven parties are contesting for 494 seats in a bicameral national parliament and 665 seats spread among 14 regional assemblies. The likely winner is Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), backed by Burma supremo General Than Shwe and studded with recently retired generals, fielding 27 ministers. The only meaningful rival is National Unity Party (NUP), which is also backed by the army. Twenty-five percent of seats in all chambers are reserved for serving generals.

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