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Myanmar opposition group urges citizens to vote down draft constitution

[JURIST] Myanmar opposition group 88 Generation Students [Asia Times backgrounder] urged Burmese voters Friday to reject the country's new draft constitution in an upcoming national referendum [JURIST reports]. The group said in a public statement that the new constitution would only further legitimize military rule and that the procedures set in place to govern the referendum are a "sham". The statement also urged voters not to fear repercussions, saying that government authorities have no right to arrest voters. The group contends that the military government picked the drafters of the constitution and barred opposition groups from providing input during the drafting process. Supporters of the new constitution say that it is an integral step towards establishing a democratic Myanmar.

The constitution-drafting process has come under fire [JURIST report] from both local and international critics, including supporters of detained Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile], who have stopped just short of calling for a boycott. The 88 Generation Students staged massive protests [JURIST report] against the military government last April which resulted in the arrest of the group's leader and the death of another demonstrator. The country has been governed without a constitution since the military regime took power in 1988 and talks on a new national charter [JURIST report] have been underway for 14 years. Last week the military government rejected a UN proposal [JURIST report] that the referendum be observed by independent monitors, saying that it would infringe on the country's sovereignty. AP has more.

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