N Korean diplomats observe polling

A delegation of more than 20 Rangoon-based foreign diplomats observed the elections today in Mandalay, according to embassy sources.

The majority were from regional Southeast Asian countries, and included the ambassador of North Korea, Kim Sok Chol.

While the junta has issued an invite to all foreign diplomats in the country to attend selected polling stations, a number of western countries declined.

British ambassador Andrew Heyn said yesterday that he had rejected the offer to take part in a “choreographed tour” of ballot stations. He was supported by officials from the German, French and Italian embassies, who penned a joint statement.

The majority of domestic reporters are banned from going within 50 meters of the ballot box, while foreign journalists and observers are banned.

All of Burma’s close neighbours, including North Korea and China, have maintained warm relations with the ruling junta, and have refused to echo international condemnation of the polls.

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