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Human Rights Watch: Governments Should Reject Burmese Referendum Results


Human Rights Watch says governments should not endorse the results of Burma's constitutional referendum. The vote was held a week ago in many areas, despite devastation wrought by Cyclone Nargis.

The New York-based rights group says the decision to go ahead with the vote demonstrates contempt for both the welfare and political rights of the Burmese people.

The group says local observers reported cases of Burmese authorities intimidating voters into voting "yes."

On Thursday, Burma's military government said 92 percent of voters approved the new draft constitution.

Burmese state-run media said said more than 99 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in participating districts.

The vote was postponed until May 24 in some of the areas worst affected by the cyclone.

Burma's government says the new constitution paves the way for general elections in 2010, but critics say the new charter only strengthens the military's control over the country.

The international community criticized Burma's military rulers for holding the scheduled vote a week after Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma's Irrawaddy Delta region.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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