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UN calls for Burma elections to be credible

By Barbara Plett
BBC News, United Nations

Burma's generals
The junta's new laws have been widely criticised internationally

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the government of Burma to create the conditions for credible elections.

He was speaking after a meeting of a group of nations established to back the UN's efforts to promote democracy in Burma.

The group called on the military government to free political prisoners, especially the detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma's new election laws in effect ban Ms Suu Kyi's participation in the vote.

Inclusive process

The meeting of the group of 15 nations was held amid growing unease that Burma's new election laws will not allow a vote that is free and fair.

The group, known as the Friends of Burma, called for inclusive, participatory and transparent elections.

Afterwards the secretary general said he had expressed concern that conditions in Burma do not measure up to what is needed for an inclusive political process.

One of the newly published election laws bans prisoners convicted of a crime from voting or running for office.

This disqualifies Ms Suu Kyi from taking part in the poll.

Mr Ban said he told Burma's military government that without full participation of political prisoners, especially Ms Suu Kyi, the election may not be regarded as credible.

He admitted that he was frustrated and disappointed at the scant progress achieved from the UN's engagement with the generals who run the country.

But he sidestepped a question on whether the time had come to look for options other than dialogue with the regime.

The Security Council is split on whether Burma's election should even be on its agenda.

China, which has close ties with Burma, argues that it is an internal matter, while Britain has led the push for strong UN involvement.



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