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Myanmar Election: Junta-backed party wins, violence erupts

After twenty years, elections were held in Myanmar and as expected the junta-backed party won with the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) getting more than 80 percent of the seats in parliament. But the opposition is claiming that the poll results were rigged.

The Irrawaddy's Kyaw Zwa Moe gives a summary of what transpired during election day

All incumbent 27 ministers and deputy ministers of the military government reportedly won in the Sunday elections

Of course, Prime Minister Thein Sein is among them and Foreign Minister Nyan Win won his constituency without a contest because he was unopposed, as were 52 candidates of the junta's party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). You'll see a new government composed of many of these incumbent ministers in the coming months.

‘Joker Votes” were used to manipulate election results

The USDP has reportedly won 82 percent of the seats in parliament. No surprise there. We've said repeatedly that Than Shwe and his team would rig votes. Most pro-democracy and ethnic parties that contested in the election knew the USDP would rig votes, but it was even worse than they expected.

The USDP made a mockery of the advanced vote process. Witnesses and party leaders said advanced votes would come in whenever a USDP candidate seemed in danger of losing. In Rangoon, they called the advanced votes “joker votes.”

Believing that the election is a sham and that the junta will dictate the results of the voting, the pro-democracy movement led by opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi has decided to boycott the elections.

The Democratic Voice of Burma has set-up an election map to monitor cases of fraud, violence and election protests.

Hseng Khio Fah, writing for the Shan Herald, narrates how an administration candidate behaved during the voting in Shan State

“Kyaw Myint (candidate) gave money to voters in his constituency Kyat 10,000 (US $10) each in polling station. People who got the money, came out from the booths with a big smile and showed us money and told they won lottery at the polling station.

“Kyaw Myint was said to have brought over 500 ballot papers from another area and put into the ballot boxes to get counted.

“During the election time, he also brought 80 armed militiamen to guard the polling booths.”

These testimonies and observations contradict the official statement of the government which are published on The New Light of Myanmar. The government is claiming that the 2010 Multiparty Democracy General Elections were held peacefully and that visiting diplomats and journalists “viewed free and happy voting of people and counting of ballots at the stations.” It added:

“They viewed free and happy casting vote of local people, systematic counting of ballots and putting on records with the use of designated forms at the polling stations.”

Violence also erupted on electiond day when government soldiers clashed with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. The fighting forced the evacuation of more than 17,000 people who sought refuge near the Thailand border.

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