– VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama has accused Burma’s military rulers of “stealing” the country’s first election in 20 years as part of a ploy to remain in power.
In a speech to India’s parliament in New Delhi Monday, Mr. Obama said the United States and India have a responsibility to condemn Sunday’s election in Burma as a “gross violation of human rights.”
Mr. Obama also accused the Burmese military of holding its people hostage to what he called “the greed and paranoia of a bankrupt regime.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Burma held the vote in conditions that were “insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent.” He said the Burmese junta has a responsibility to turn the election into a “new beginning for the country and its people,” after almost five decades of direct military rule.
Ballot counting continued in Burma Monday following an election that opposition groups and witnesses say was marred by widespread fraud and voter intimidation.
Election rules reserved one-quarter of parliamentary seats for the Burmese military and created obstacles for opposition and ethnic parties to compete. Two military-allied parties fielded a vast majority of the candidates for the open seats, all but ensuring they will have a majority.
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said that although the Burma vote was “not perfect,” it is “a step forward in the country’s democratic development.”
Burmese democratic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was locked up during the election, and most foreign journalists and international observers were barred from monitoring the vote.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy boycotted the vote because of what it said were unfair rules. It won the country’s last elections in 1990 but the military refused to let it take office. The party was dissolved earlier this year.
Burmese state media have announced victories for several military-allied candidates who ran unopposed, but it is not clear when full results will be released for a two-chamber parliament and 14 regional assemblies.