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Myanmar rejects independent observers for May constitution referendum

[JURIST] The military government of Myanmar [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on Saturday rejected a suggestion by UN special envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari [official profile] that the upcoming May referendum on a new constitution [JURIST reports] for the country be observed by independent monitors. The government also declined an offer of UN technical support during the vote. Gambari argued that the suggestions would legitimatize the results of the referendum in the eyes of the international community. In rejecting the offer, Myanmar said that the country possessed the resources to carry out the vote, and that monitoring of the process would infringe upon the country's sovereignty. Also on Saturday, Gambari met with opposition groups who expressed an interest in increased communication with the military government and the release of political prisoners. Gambari also met with detained Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi [advocacy profile], although details of their meeting were not immediately known.

The constitution-drafting process has come under fire [JURIST report] from critics who have urged citizens to reject the proposed referendum, saying it is a "sham" to legalize military rule. Other opponents, including supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi, have stopped just short of calling for a boycott. 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. AP has more.

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