Myanmar state media warns poll boycott blocks democracy

Myanmar`s state media on Sunday warned that citizens must vote "without fail" in the upcoming election and accused those advocating a boycott of misleading the people.

Last Updated: Oct 31, 2010, 19:54 PM IST

Yangon: Myanmar`s state media on Sunday
warned that citizens must vote "without fail" in the upcoming
election and accused those advocating a boycott of misleading
the people.

"Every citizen who values democracy and wants
democratic rule must cast their votes without fail," said an
editorial in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a junta
mouthpiece, ahead of the first elections in 20 years on
November 7.

"However, some people are inciting the people to
refrain from voting in the elections. They are attempting to
mislead the people who are walking along the road to
multiparty democracy for a change of a new era with instigated
words," it said.

The pro-democracy movement in the army-ruled country
has been deeply split between those who are taking part in the
hope of gradual change and others who are refusing to
participate, saying the poll will entrench military rule.

Detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said
she will refuse to cast a ballot and suggested her supporters
consider doing the same, although she stopped short of an
outright call for a voter boycott.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) has been
officially disbanded after deciding not to participate in the
poll.

An attempt to encourage a boycott "is tantamount not
only to violating the democratic right of other people but
also to barring their own right," the newspaper added.

"The multiparty democracy general election is the
first step towards the emergence of a democratic country."
The poll, in which junta-backed candidates have hefty
advantages and a quarter of seats are reserved for the
military, has been widely criticised by Western countries and
activists as a sham that will entrench army rule.

The NLD, which won the last election by a landslide
but was never allowed to take power, recently said this year`s
poll would only "prolong the military dictatorship",
describing the rules as "totally unfair".

A group of former NLD members has formed a new party,
the National Democratic Force (NDF), to stand in the election
-- a move that has put it at odds with Suu Kyi, who has spend
most of the last two decades locked up.

PTI