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May 6, 2008 (DVB)-The Burmese military regime has postponed the referendum on the new constitution in some townships hid hard by cyclone Nargis this weekend, contrary to an earlier statement that the vote would go ahead as planned.
The national referendum on the junta's draft constitution was due to be held throughout the country on 10 May, but voting in seven townships in Irrawaddy division and 40 townships in Rangoon division has now been postponed until 24 May.
Pro-democracy activists were outraged by the decision to go ahead with the referendum, and called on the government to prioritise disaster relief instead of pushing ahead with a draft constitution felt by many to be merely a way of further entrenching military rule.
Article 20 of the February 2008 Referendum Law allows township sub-commissions to postpone voting in some or all polling booths in the event of a natural disaster.
Tropical cyclone Nargis swept through Burma over the weekend, causing large-scale devastation which has killed thousands and left many more homeless and suffering shortages of food, water and electricity.
The latest government figures say that more than 15,000 people were killed in the cyclone, with many thousands more missing.
Reporting by Siân Thomas