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Burmese Opposition Lowers Election Expectations

A man casts an advance vote at a local election commission office in Rangoon, 06 Nov 2010
A man casts an advance vote at a local election commission office in Rangoon, 06 Nov 2010

Burma's main pro-democracy parties are lowering their expectations from Sunday's national elections, saying persistent cheating appears to have robbed them of seats they had expected to win.

Officials with the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is closely aligned with the nation's military rulers, were quoted Tuesday saying the party has won as much as 80 percent of the seats in the new parliament. Official results are not expected for several days.

Restrictive rules had made it impossible for the opposition parties - the National Democratic Force and the Democratic Party - to contest more than a small percentage of the seats.

But officials for the two parties say they have done worse than expected even in those constituencies, partly because of controversial "advance votes," which swung the results to the USDP.

Despite the complaints of fraud, Vietnam on Tuesday issued a statement on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations describing the election as a "significant step forward." The statement also encouraged Burma to "accelerate the process of national reconciliation and democratization."

China's Foreign Ministry also welcomed the election, calling it a "critical step" on the road to an elected government. But most Western and other Asian nations have criticized the election as a lost opportunity to move toward reconciliation and stability.

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking Monday to India's parliament, accused the Burmese junta of "stealing" the election and committing a "gross violation of human rights."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.