International

Myanmar Holds First Election In 20 Years. The Outcome Was Never In Doubt.

election poster in Yangon, Myanmar

A poster of the Myanmar's Union Solidarity and Development Party is seen on a street of the China town area, Yangon, Myanmar. Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010.  AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

For the first time in 20 years, people in Myanmar headed to the polls on Sunday. Officials results haven't been announced, but the results are not in doubt. The only nature of the elections that is multi-party is that the military junta that runs the country set up two parties. Complex election rules were set up to exclude opposition candidates. The elections have been condemned as a sham.

"It is unacceptable to steal elections, as the regime in Burma has done again for all the world to see," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a speech to India's parliament in New Delhi.

"Faced with such gross violations of human rights, it is the responsibility of the international community — especially leaders like the United States and India — to condemn it."

Few journalists have covered the elections from inside Myanmar, the government banned them from coming. Some news organizations snuck in reporters, such as the LA Times, which has a nice piece this morning.

Exile groups and leaders of the banned National League for Democracy party issued calls to boycott the election, but it was unclear how effective those pleas were. In response to them, the government pressured citizens to turn out and vote for "candidates correctly."

"You have to vote or the state gives you trouble," said a Yangon money-changer. "They'll figure out a way to win no matter what."

myanmar refugees in tahiland

Myanmar citizens gather while waiting for food at the Border Patrol Police base in Thailand's Mae Sot town Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 following fighting between Myanmar soldiers and ethnic Karen fighters.  Apichart Weerawong/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Apichart Weerawong/AP

Along the Thai border today, ethnic minority Karen rebels seized government buildings in a fierce fight, reports Reuters. Thousands have fled into Thailand, and at least 10 were injured in the fighting.

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