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UN, US Criticize Burma Over Election Observers

A member of the Democratic Party (Myanmar) hands out political booklets on the party to a taxi driver during their election campaign in downtown Rangoon, Burma, 19 Oct 2010

Burma is coming in for international criticism over its decision to bar foreign diplomats and reporters from entering the country to observe its November 7 election.

At the United Nations, a spokesman for Ban Ki-moon replied to questions about the decision by saying the secretary general "has been clear and consistent" in urging Burmese leaders to make sure the elections are "inclusive, participatory and transparent."

The issue was also raised at the U.S. State Department briefing in Washington on Monday. Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Burma's decision was "unfortunate, but not surprising" in light of the ruling junta's previous behavior.

Crowley also said the decision to bar outside observers is "par for the course."

The Burmese election commission announced Monday that no visas would be issued to foreign diplomats or reporters seeking to visit for next month's parliamentary election.

The commission said there were already enough diplomats and reporters in the country to observe the vote, the first in 20 years.