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Millions vote in Myanmar’s first election in 20 years
Published on 8 Nov. 2010 12:23 AM IST
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Myanmar’s military-ruled population started voting Sunday in the country’s first election in 20 years, designed to introduce “discipline-flourishing democracy”.
An estimated 29 million people were eligible to vote in Sunday’s polls, the first since May 27, 1990.
This year’s election has raised few expectations for real democracy in Myanmar, but some are hoping it is a small step towards change in a country which has been under military dictatorships since 1962.
“This election is a good start for the country,” said Yaron Mayer, Israeli Ambassador to Myanmar. “After the election, Myanmar may change gradually.”
The junta has refused to allow international monitors of the voting, other than a token tour of selected stations by Yangon-based diplomats and journalists.
Several ambassadors refused to join the “voting tour”, including those representing the European Union, Britain, the US, Australia and representatives of the UN.
The USDP and NUP account for almost two-thirds of the 3,071 candidates contesting the polls, making it mathematically impossible for the pro-democracy parties to win a majority. The military has stage-managed the run-up to the election in such a way as to assure the victory of its own proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and other establishment-friendly parties such as the National Unity Party (NUP).
The National Democratic Force (NDF), a break away from Suu Kyi’s NLD party, could afford to field only 160 candidates, the largest number for the pro-democracy groups.

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