News / Asia

Opposition Lodges Complaints About Burma's Election

Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party drive a campaign vehicle with posters of the party's candidates before elections (File Photo)
Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party drive a campaign vehicle with posters of the party's candidates before elections (File Photo)

While opposition candidates have given up hope of having much voice in Burma's newly elected parliament, many are beginning to focus on the impending release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. There are indications she will be freed from house arrest in the coming days.

Several opposition parties in Burma have filed complaints of vote fraud and voter intimidation in Sunday's elections.

The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) says it won more than 75 percent of the parliamentary seats contested. The USDP is allied with senior leader Than Shwe.

Among those complaining about the election process is another pro-military party, the National Unity Party.

Officials from the largest pro-democracy party, National Democratic Force - a breakaway from the National League for Democracy of opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, - also accused the USDP of cheating.

Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, says the parliament will have little influence.

"After the elections the parliament, which is going to come out, will be dominated by the regime-backed candidates.  And, the parliamentarians will have no other chance but to become a rubber-stamp parliament to endorse this executive council which will run the country," said Soe Aung.

Burma's military government says the election represents a step toward democracy. But rights groups and several governments say the election was a sham meant to keep the military in power.

As frustration grows over the vote process, many critics of the government are looking toward the expected release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

She has spent most of the past 20 years under detention, ever since Burma's military government ignored the NLD's sweeping victory in the country's last election. Her current sentence ends Saturday.

"Anyhow we believe that she should be released," said Nu Wyn Thein, a senior member of the NLD.  "As a criminal when you served a certain time you, according to the law, you have to be released at the very exact time - not more, not a single day more. So I think she might be released on that date. Saturday will be the last day for her."

On Wednesday, it appeared that fighting between the military and ethnic minority militias had tapered off. More than 10,000 people fled across the border into Thailand after fighting began Sunday in the town of Myawaddy, but most have returned home.

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