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Myanmar constitution overwhelmingly approved after second round of voting

[JURIST] Myanmar's draft constitution [JURIST news archive] has been overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum after two rounds of voting with 92 percent of votes cast favoring the proposed charter and 98 percent of the country's 27 million eligible voters turning out, state television reported Monday. Voting concluded [JURIST report] Saturday in the 47 townships hit hardest earlier this month by Cyclone Nargis, a storm which left an estimated 130,000 people dead or missing. The referendum was held in the rest of the country May 10, much to the dismay [JURIST reports] of many members of the international community as well as local opposition and rights activists. Xinhua has more.

Myanmar's military government announced on May 15 that the constitution had been approved [JURIST report] by roughly 90 percent of voters in the referendum's initial round. National League for Democracy and other opposition groups labeled the referendum a "sham" to legalize military rule. The draft constitution reportedly reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military and would also block pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [JURIST news archive] from seeking office. 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 have been underway for 14 years. The last general elections in Myanmar were held in 1990. The NLD, led by 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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