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Junta claims 92 percent endorse constitution

May 27, 2008 (DVB), Following the postponed referendum in Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions, the Burmese junta has announced that 92 percent of voters have endorsed its draft constitution.

The vote was held on 10 May in most of the country but was delayed until 24 May in 47 townships in Rangoon and Irrawaddy that were severely affected by the recent cyclone.

The result was a foregone conclusion as the military regime had already announced a 92 percent 'Yes' vote in the 278 townships that had already gone to the polls.

In the 47 townships that voted on Saturday, 92.93 percent of the 4,580,393 voters cast 'Yes' votes, according to the Referendum Commission.

Combined with the results of the 10 May vote, this makes a 92.48 percent vote in favour of the constitution.

The junta was criticised for going ahead with the referendum instead of focusing its efforts on providing disaster relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis.

In its referendum announcement, the government said 77, 738 people were killed due to the cyclone and another 55,917 were missing, including 81,130 who were eligible to vote.

There were widespread reports of corruption in the lead-up to the referendum and during the vote, including intimidation, threats and coercion.

Some voters said they been tricked or forced into voting 'Yes' by misleading instructions from polling station officials and withholding of aid, and others said they did not get the chance to vote as their ballots had already been ticked by officials on their behalf.

In the weeks leading up to the poll, government supporters cracked down on 'Vote No' campaigners while running their own aggressive campaign in support of the constitution.

Reporting by Si√¢n Thomas

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