Myanmar junta sets election date of Nov. 7 – Yahoo! News

YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar’s ruling junta said the country’s first election in two decades will be held Nov. 7, finally announcing a date Friday for long-awaited polls that critics have dismissed as a sham designed to cement military rule.

Foreign governments have urged Myanmar to ensure the polls are open, fair and include the party of detained pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. But her party already had decided to boycott the vote, saying the junta imposed unfair rules including ones that effectively bar the Nobel Peace laureate from being a candidate.

The junta’s date for the elections came as yet another symbolic blow to Suu Kyi’s chances of participating — they will fall just days before her latest term of house arrest is due to expire on Nov. 13.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide majority in the 1990 election. But the junta refused to honor the results and has kept her locked away mostly under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years, ignoring global pleas for her freedom.

The spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy said the date was too soon to allow sufficient time for party campaigning.

“Without freedom of media or expression, the elections cannot be either free or fair,” said the spokesman, Nyan Win.

Friday’s brief announcement by the Election Commission was carried on state TV and radio.

“Multiparty general elections for the country’s parliament will be held on Sunday Nov. 7,” said the announcement, which called on political parties to submit candidate lists between Aug. 16 and Aug. 30.

The elections are the final step in the junta’s so-called “roadmap to democracy,” a seven-step program for shifting from 50 years of military rule.

Ahead of the polls, the government passed many laws criticized as undemocratic by Suu Kyi and the international community. The laws effectively bar Suu Kyi and other political prisoners — estimated at more than 2,000 — from taking part in the elections.

Tight rules for campaigning bar parties from chanting, marching or saying anything at rallies that could tarnish the country’s image.

Renegade members of Suu Kyi’s disbanded party have formed a new group, the National Democratic Force, to carry the party’s mantle in the vote. Suu Kyi, who favored a boycott, has expressed dissatisfaction through her lawyer with the formation of the new breakaway party.

Forty political parties have registered to contest the elections, and six others are awaiting approval to run. Several of the parties have been critical of the official process.

The leader of the Democratic Party said that the group complained Tuesday to the Election Commission that police are intimidating its members.

A 2008 constitution adopted as part of the junta’s roadmap to democracy stipulates that 25 percent of parliamentary seats go to the military. It stipulates that no amendments to the charter can be made without the consent of more than 75 percent of lawmakers.

Myanmar to hold parliamentary elections on November 7 – Yahoo! News

Myanmar to hold election on November 7 – Yahoo! News;_ylt=AsjGAItgoQpHcdtcWT9qWQ9n.3QA;_ylu=X3oDMTE2NmhoNWNiBHBvcwMyBHNlYwN5bi1yLWItbGVmdARzbGsDZXYtbXlhbm1hcnRv

Protesters from Free Burma Coalition – Yahoo! News Photos;_ylt=Ap4vdXVorJgCjEgFEc5DulfuOrgF;_ylu=X3oDMTE5dGx1Yzc3BHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bl9yX3RvcF9waG90bwRzbGsDbXlhbm1hcnRvaG9s#photoViewer=/100813/photos_wl_pc_afp/4693a1ff50ad5bf3408537519b372cb3

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