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Myanmar to allow voters to observe ballot count in constitutional referendum

[JURIST] Myanmar voters will be permitted to observe ballot counting in a scheduled May national referendum [JURIST report] on a draft constitution [JURIST news archive] put forth by the country's ruling junta, according to Thursday state media reports. Government officials said that this would ensure that the referendum was fair, but opposition groups like the National League for Democracy (NLD) have expressed skepticism and urged citizens to reject [JURIST report] the proposed constitution, labeling the referendum a "sham" to legalize military rule. The draft constitution reportedly reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military [AP report; JURIST report] and would also block pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from seeking office. AP has more.

Myanmar [JURIST news archive] 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. The last general elections in Myanmar were held in 1990. The NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won that election easily, but the ruling military government did not recognize the result and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest.

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