Myanmar: `Ballot sheets tampered with`

Aung San Suu Kyi`s party and its opposition allies will have almost no sway even if they win all the seats they are contesting.

Updated: Apr 01, 2012, 12:22 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Yangon: Myanmar`s opposition on Sunday complained that ballot sheets had been tampered with in historic by-elections.

Sunday`s by-election was expected to send democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi into Parliament for her first public office since launching her decades-long struggle against the military-dominated government.

However, National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win revealed that there had been many complaints from around the country that wax had been applied over the check box for Suu Kyi`s party, which could later be rubbed off to cancel the vote.

Nyan Win accused the election commission for the irregularity.

The by-election, to fill a few dozen vacant seats, followed months of surprising reforms by a nominally civilian government that does not relish ceding ground to Suu Kyi, but which must appear more democratic in order to emerge from decades of international isolation that have crippled the Southeast Asian nation`s economy.

Suu Kyi`s party and its opposition allies will have almost no sway even if they win all the seats they are contesting, because the 664-seat Parliament will remain dominated by the military and the military-backed ruling party.

But when Suu Kyi takes office, it will symbolise a giant leap toward national reconciliation after nearly a quarter-century in which she spent most of her time under house arrest. It could also nudge Western powers closer to easing economic sanctions they have imposed on the country for years.

The 66-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate is vying to represent the constituency of Wah Thin Kha, one of dozens of dirt-poor villages south of the main city Yangon. She is running against the ruling party`s Soe Win, a former Army doctor.

During a news conference on Friday, Suu Kyi cast serious doubt over the ballot`s fairness, saying it could not be called free or fair because of myriad irregularities and intimidation during the campaign. Her party says electoral officials have illegally canvassed for the ruling party, opposition posters have been vandalised, and while some voter lists lack eligible voters, others include the names of the dead.

Still, Suu Kyi said, she had no regrets in joining the race and said she was determined to go ahead "because we think this is what our people want”.

(With Agencies’ inputs)