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Updated: November 6, 2010 22:03 IST

Myanmar set for “polls”

P. S. Suryanarayana
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Suu Kyi's NLD is boycotting the election

Military-ruled Myanmar goes to the polls on Sunday, with the junta pledging to stay the course of a self-proclaimed “roadmap” for the restoration of democracy. The electorate is of the order of 26 million.

However, Sunday's electoral venture by the junta, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has already attracted international criticism as nothing short of a sham exercise.

The main dissident camp — the recently-derecognised National League for Democracy (NLD) led by the long-imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi — is boycotting the poll.

Ms. Suu Kyi, still under house arrest in Yangon and awaiting a judicial ruling on her final appeal against her incarceration, reminded the people that the NLD's landslide victory of over 82 per cent in the 1990 general election was not honoured by the then military establishment. She did not, however, call for a total boycott of Sunday's poll.

No arrests

Nyan Win, NLD spokesman and Ms. Suu Kyi's political associate, told The Hindu from Yangon on Saturday he was not aware of any poll-eve arrests of senior party leaders. The general atmosphere was peaceful, and the presence of security personnel at the sites earmarked for polling stations in Yangon was “not too large”. Reports of boycott calls by people not associated with the NLD were doing the rounds across the country, said Mr. Nyan Win.

Diplomats and observers in the region said the SPDC's “favourite” party, consisting of military personnel in civilian attire, campaigned on a far more subdued note than expected. The NLD-splinter group, widely seen as a “nominal” opposition party, defended its decision to contest by arguing that a gradual democratisation could be attained through such electoral participation.

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