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US urges free vote in Myanmar

The US said that the conduct of closely watched by-elections would affect future relations with Myanmar.

Washington: The US on Friday urged a free and fair vote in Myanmar, saying that the conduct of closely watched by-elections would affect future relations with the once-isolated nation.

The State Department said it shared concerns about irregularities expressed by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is seeking her first seat in Parliament, but said it would wait to see the outcome of Sunday`s vote.

"We certainly want to see free and fair elections on Sunday. This would certainly propel further momentum in our bilateral relations," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

"But we have noted some of these irregularities and... as we move forward through Sunday, we`re going to assess," Toner said.

"We`re obviously going to be looking to these elections on Sunday as another indication of what direction the country is moving in," he said.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who spent most of the past 22 years under house arrest, is seeking one of 45 seats in an election that would have been unthinkable before President Thein Sein launched reforms last year.

But Suu Kyi said yesterday that the vote would not be "genuinely free and fair" and complained of problems including "many, many cases of intimidation”.

President Barack Obama`s administration has put a major focus on the country formerly known as Burma and opened dialogue in 2009 in hopes of coaxing the country out of its isolation. (AFP)


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