Myanmar promises EU to hold fair vote | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 14, 2012

Myanmar promises EU to hold fair vote

Myanmar's military-backed government assured visiting top EU officials yesterday that upcoming by-elections heralding the opposition's return to mainstream politics will be democratic.
"We have taken the necessary measures so that the upcoming by-elections will be free, fair and credible," lower house speaker Shwe Mann told EU development commissioner Andris Piebalgs, speaking through an interpreter.
Piebalgs, carrying an EU pledge to provide 150 million euros (almost $200 million) in additional aid to Myanmar over the next two years, also held private talks with President Thein Sein and voiced optimism about the changes.
"It is sustainable, what is happening here, but let's keep our eyes open," Piebalgs said. "You feel that no one doubts the sincerity of the reforms even if they have some disagreement about what is happening now."
The April 1 polls, which will see Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi stand for a seat in parliament for the first time, are viewed as a key test of the authorities' commitment to budding reforms.
A 2010 election which swept the army's political allies to power was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and intimidation.
The opposition cannot threaten the ruling party's majority even if it takes all 48 available seats in the by-elections, but a Suu Kyi win would lend legitimacy to the fledgling parliament.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a landslide victory in an election in 1990, but the then-ruling junta never allowed the party to take power.
Suu Kyi was under house arrest at the time. She was released from her latest stint in detention a few days after the 2010 vote.

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