Burma's top military leader says plans for elections in 2010 under a controversial roadmap to democracy are well underway.
state New Light of Myanmar newspaper quoted Senior General Than Shwe
Saturday as saying the seven-step road map is the only way to smoothly
transition to democracy.
The paper said Than Shwe was speaking
Friday to annual meeting of the Union Solidarity and Development
Association. Authorities say about half the country's population
belong to the pro-military social organization.
Initial steps of
the roadmap included drafting a new constitution and having it approved
by a national referendum in May, soon after Typhoon Nargis devastated
large areas of the country.
The draft constitution was ratified with more than 92 percent of the vote, a result Western countries regarded with suspicion.
government says the constitution implements democratic reforms, but
critics argue it tightens the military's grip on power.
constitution guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats will be held
by the military. It also allows the military to take over the
government during a state of emergency, and it bans detained opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi from public office because she was married to a
A military government has ruled Burma since 1962.
The opposition party won the last general elections in 1990. But
military leaders never recognized the results of that race and instead
have kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for 13 of the past 19
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.