Burma's ruling general urged people Monday to make "correct choices" in national elections to be held sometime this year.

In a message to mark the country's 62nd year of independence from Britain, Senior General Than Shwe said his seven-step "road map" to democracy was the only process for a transition from nearly 50 years of military rule.

Critics call the election a sham, designed to keep the military in power.

The United States said Monday it was taking a "measured approach" to elections until it could assess electoral conditions and see whether the opposition and minorities would take part.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said so far the U.S. has not seen any meaningful steps by the regime to indicate it is taking steps that would lead to credible elections.

The elections would be the first since 1990, when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy swept the vote, but the military government never recognized the results.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under some sort of detention for 14 of the last 20 years, has had her house arrest extended past 2010 so she can not participate in the election.

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