US diplomat skeptical on Myanmar elections

Updated On: Jan 05, 2010

The announcement comes in the wake of the Obama Administration in mid-2009 announcing it would take a different approach in its engagement with Myanmar.

The AFP reports:

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday voiced doubts on whether Myanmar's upcoming elections would be credible and urged the military regime to engage the opposition and ethnic minorities.

Myanmar's leader Senior General Than Shwe, in a message read out on Monday for the nation's 62nd independence anniversary, urged people to make "correct choices" in the elections which the military government wants to hold sometime in 2010.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the United States was taking a "measured approach" to elections until it could assess the conditions, including whether the opposition and ethnic groups will participate.

"So far we have not seen any meaningful steps by the regime to indicate it is putting in place measures that would lead to credible elections," Kelly said.

"Much of the opposition's leadership remains in prison, there is no space for political dissent or debate and no freedom of press," Kelly said.

Kelly called for Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to engage opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic leaders "in a comprehensive dialogue on democratic reform".

"This would be a first step towards inclusive elections," he said.

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