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Burma to let Suu Kyi vote in May referendum PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 April 2008

The Burmese military government has decided to allow pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to vote in a May 10 national referendum on whether to endorse a draft constitution, sources in the ruling junta said Saturday, reports agency.

According to the sources, the Burmese government placed the name of Suu Kyi on the list of eligible voters. Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is under house arrest, since her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a general election but was prevented by the military from taking office.

The Burmese military junta apparently is seeking to dodge criticism at home and abroad by allowing Suu Kyi to take part in the 'democratisation process' it envisages, with a May 27 deadline approaching for extending her house arrest.

Other names on the eligible voters list include Tin Oo, the deputy leader of the NLD, which Suu Kyi leads. Tin Oo also is under house arrest. Suu Kyi will be allowed to cast a ballot at her home in Rangoon in early May before the May 10 referendum, the sources said.

The sources told The Yomiuri Shimbun that it will be her choice whether to vote. Burmese's national referendum law, which went into force in February, stipulates that people detained at police stations and prisons also are qualified to vote in the referendum.

But it was previously thought that the junta highly likely would not list the names of detainees who are on trial and those under house arrest, including Suu Kyi. Since February, the NLD, which opposed the junta's drafting of a new constitution that acknowledges the military's leading role in politics, and groups of young monks, who played a central role in anti-government demonstrations last year, have been waging a campaign calling on voters to reject the new constitution in the referendum.

Meanwhile, the junta is calling for support for the new constitution by utilising state media and pro-military organizations. In addition, the Burmese government is harshly cracking down on NLD members, detaining more than 140 people, according to sources in Yangon. Meanwhile, the junta is coming under increasing pressure from the international community.

On Wednesday (April 23), the United States submitted a draft UN Security Council presidential statement to the council, urging the Burmese government to allow politicians, including Suu Kyi, to participate in the referendum. The US Senate voted Thursday (April 24) to award Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, the US top civilian honour.

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