Referendum to go ahead as planned

May 5, 2008 (DVB)-The national referendum on the Burmese military regime's draft constitution is to be held on 10 May as planned, despite the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis, state media said today.

The government said the natural disaster would not prevent the vote from going ahead.

"The referendum is only a few days away and the people are eagerly looking forward to voting," the junta said in a statement.

National League for Democracy spokesperson U Nyan Win condemned the decision, saying that the government's priority should be helping the victims of the cyclone.

"The people should be the priority at this time as they are suffering the devastation caused by a natural disaster," Nyan Win said.

"The announcement by the government on the referendum shows how little they care for the people – they have no sympathy at all for the people," he said.

"The NLD believes this is no time for the government to carry on with the referendum on its scheduled date. But now they are continuing with it and the people of Burma will respond to that."

Nyan Win also criticised the government's response to the cyclone and said the authorities had not taken responsibility for assisting the victims.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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