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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
AP/Press Association Images
# Burma
In photos: Burma takes to the polls on election day
Allegations of election fraud and intimidation as Burma closes polls on first national election in 20 years. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi boycotted the vote, leading others to follow suit.

THE POLLS HAVE CLOSED ON Burma’s first national election in 20 years.

Ruling generals had said the election would mark the country’s transition to democratic civilian rule.

However, critics say the election is a sham and main opposition party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who won in the 1990 election but was prevented from taking power, is boycotting it.

US President Barack Obama today called on Burmese authorities to release Suu Kyi from house arrest. She is scheduled to be released on 13 November, Reuters reports, and has been on house arrest on and off since 1989.

She was included in the list of eligible voters for today’s election, but said she would not cast her vote.

Obama said today that he had raised the issue of Suu Kyi’s detention directly with a leading member of Burma’s military junta during a meeting with south-east Asian leaders. A statement released from that meeting did not mention Suu Kyi.

Voter intimidation

Allegations of voter intimidation and fraud have already emerged, according to Irrawaddy.

One opposition party candidate claims that polling station officials have been marking the symbol of the ruling party on behalf of the voters, and said voters were threatened with jail if they chose to vote for the opposition democratic party.

Other party members say that the ballot boxes were not sealed.

Turnout for the elections has been light, with some polling stations almost empty today, according to the New York Times. One shopkeeper said neither he, his friends or family had voted, as a show of support for Suu Kyi.

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said that the UK doesn’t consider the election as being legitimate:

There are over two thousand political prisons in Burma; people who would wish to stand for election are not able to do so, so it is not an accurate reflection of the view of the people of Burma, and for that reason we don’t think the elections are a legitimate process.

Asked if he considered the election a “step in the right direction” for the ruling junta, Browne said that you either have a proper set of elections or you don’t, and he has concluded that these are not proper.

International election observers and foreign journalists were banned from the election, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday.

In photos: Burma takes to the polls on election day
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