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US Official Expresses Optimism About Myanmar Election


A supporter displays a picture of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi stuck in her headband during a campaign rally of the National League for Democracy in Thandwe, Myanmar, Oct. 17, 2015.

A supporter displays a picture of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi stuck in her headband during a campaign rally of the National League for Democracy in Thandwe, Myanmar, Oct. 17, 2015.

A senior White House official said Tuesday that Myanmar has promised to hold free and fair elections next month.

Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters in Yangon that he was satisfied with the responses he was given in meetings with Myanmar officials, political parties and civil society groups.

He said the United States was hopeful that the election results would be honored but warned that Washington would reassess its position if the results were not respected.

"Clearly that would represent a step backward," he said. "And we would have to make assessments about our policies and our engagement in response to something like that."

Meanwhile, EU Chief Election Observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff told reporters his observers would look at the entire process, not just the balloting.

"Because the election is more than just voting on election day but also the time afterward — the counting, for example, and possibly dispute resolution — we will have members of our team present in Myanmar until December so as to be able to get a comprehensive picture of the overall process," he said.

He added that the commander in chief of Myanmar's army, General Min Aung Hlaing, had assured him that EU observers would be allowed access to polling stations on military installations.

The European Union will have 30 long-term observers to cover the November 8 election, in addition to 62 short-term observers deployed across the country. The U.S.-based Carter Center will also observe the balloting.

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy, has called for vigorous international monitoring of the election.

Her party won 43 seats in parliamentary by-elections in 2012. The last time the NLD took part in a general election was in 1990, when it scored a landslide victory that the country's military rulers ignored.

This general election will be the first since a nominally civilian government was installed in 2011. But with the military still firmly in control of the process, there is widespread speculation about whether the election will be free and fair.

Htet Aung and May Kha contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

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