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Burmese government promises elections in 2010

Feb 11, 2008 (DVB), Opposition groups have expressed doubts about announcements made by the military regime promising a referendum on the constitution this year and a general election in 2010.

Announcements 1/2008 and 2/2008 of 9 February were published in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper today outlining plans for a national referendum on the government's proposed constitution this year and a general election in 2010.

The announcements said that approval of the draft constitution would be sought in a referendum in May 2008, in accordance with step four of the regime's seven-step road map.

The government also pledged "multi-party democracy general elections" in 2010.

National League for Democracy spokesperson U Nyan Win expressed reservations about the government's announcements.

"According to the announcement made by the government, a national referendum will be held in May, when people will be able to say whether they agree with the constitution of not," Nyan Win said.

"But the government is already talking about holding elections in 2010 when we don't yet know what public opinion will say in the national referendum, and that is beyond our understanding," he said.

"We are worried that they are going to force people to support the outcome they want."

Nyan Win said that the announcement of a referendum seemed premature when the details and substance of the vote were not yet clear.

"There has been no explanation of how the referendum will be conducted, and the constitution which people will vote for or against does not yet exist , there are only claims by the government that it will be finished soon," Nyan Win said.

"The government's announcement about things which are not yet happening is very strange to us."

Reporting by Maung Too


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