No serious complaints in Myanmar vote: ASEAN chief
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Last Updated: Sunday, April 01, 2012, 20:30
Phnom Penh: Voting in Myanmar's historic by-elections is going "rather smoothly", ASEAN chief Surin Pitsuwan said on Sunday, adding that despite claims of ballot irregularities he had not heard "anything serious".

"All of our people are there reporting that everything seems to be going rather smoothly," Surin said in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, where officials are preparing for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Voters in Myanmar flocked to the polls today for elections expected to sweep opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi into parliament for the first time as part of dramatic political reforms.

Observers from ASEAN were among those invited by Myanmar to monitor the elections.

The milestone polls were marred somewhat by opposition allegations of ballot-paper irregularities, notably that wax had been put over the check box for Suu Kyi's party that could be rubbed off later to cancel the vote.

Surin said he was not aware of this particular complaint.

"I have not heard specific complaints but I understand that overall things are moving well and a lot of those complaints are very common in many elections in many countries too," he said. "So I have not heard anything serious."

Earlier in the day the diplomat told reporters that the ASEAN teams on the ground reported "full enthusiasm, full alert, full awareness of all parties involved in the by-elections".

"It's a good omen for Myanmar," he said. Myanmar's poor human rights record and iron-fisted suppression of political dissent have often hijacked ASEAN gatherings in the past, much to the embarrassment of more democratic member-states.

But Myanmar President Thein Sein will attend the summit on Tuesday and Wednesday in Phnom Penh basking in the glow of foreign approval for recent reforms in his country.


First Published: Sunday, April 01, 2012, 20:30

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