Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is warning of possible fraud in next month's parliamentary polls, saying that government voter lists for the by-elections appear to include "a lot of dead people."
The Nobel laureate, whose National League for Democracy [NLD] party is seeking legislative seats in the April 1 elections, made her comments Thursday outside Rangoon.
"We have just discovered there are many, many irregularities on the voter lists, and we have applied to the elections commission to do something about this," Aung San Suu Kyi said. "So I would like you to watch very closely what's happening to make sure that the elections are free and fair, before you decide what the next step should be with regard to sanctions.''
She spoke after a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, whose country has joined other Western nations in imposing economic sanctions on Burma and its former military rulers.
"We would love to offer additional development assistance. We would love to begin to lift sanctions, but only when we see an expression, the demonstration of the power of the ballot box,'' said Baird.
Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party also has complained of restrictions on campaign venues, including recent government bans on the party's use of football stadiums for rallies.
Baird - the first Canadian foreign minister to visit Burma - said Western governments will closely monitor the polls and their aftermath, as Western leaders decide whether to lift sanctions. He earlier met with Burmese president Thein Sein and several key government ministers in the capital, Naypyitaw.
The opposition NLD party rose to a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the ruling military junta of that era did not allow it to take power. The NLD boycotted 2010 elections, complaining they were held under unfair conditions that prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from running for office. She is seeking a legislative seat in a district outside Rangoon in next month's polls.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.