Myanmar junta chief praises `successful` elections

Myanmar`s ruling strongman said that the country`s recent elections - condemned by the international community as rigged - were free and fair and a step toward handing power to the people.

Yangon: Myanmar`s ruling strongman said
on Wednesday that the country`s recent elections - condemned by the
international community as rigged - were free and fair and a
step toward handing power to the people.

Junta chief Senior Gen Than Shwe made the assessment
about the country`s first elections in two decades in a speech
marking National Day, which celebrates a 1920 student strike
against British colonialism.

According to the state-run New Light of Myanmar
newspaper, Than Shwe said the successful completion of "free
and fair elections" left just two steps to complete in the
junta`s self-styled `roadmap to democracy:` convening
Parliament and building a modern developed democratic nation
with a Head of State elected by Parliament.

Government opponents and outside observers were
critical of the November 7 polls, saying they were held under
unfair conditions and that the results were manipulated to
allow the military-backed party to win.

The UN special envoy to Myanmar said Sunday that he
told the military government that it must address concerns
about the polls.

Vijay Nambiar, speaking after a two-day visit, said
concerns about the elections have to be addressed "as
transparently as possible."

"This is important for laying the foundation of a
credible transition" to democratic rule, he said.

Than Shwe in his speech said that plans were now under
way "to hand over state power to the public."

Although final official results have yet to be
announced, a tabulation based on reports in state media shows
the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party
garnered nearly 80 per cent of the seats in the two-house
Union Parliament.

The election results assure that the military, which
has ruled Myanmar since 1962, will continue to wield decisive
power.

The disbanded party of pro-democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi also marked National Day, with the 65-year old Nobel
Peace laureate, recently released from 7 1/2 years of
detention, calling for unity, courage and perseverance to
achieve peace, security and prosperity.

She called on the junta to release all political
prisoners.

PTI

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