[JURIST] Myanmar's military junta continued its controversial referendum on a draft constitution [JURIST news archives] Saturday in areas hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis earlier this month that left some 130,000 people dead or missing according to the latest estimates. Voting took place in 47 townships, 40 in the vicinity of the former capital Yangon. The referendum was held in the rest of the country [JURIST report] May 10, much to the dismay [JURIST report] of many members of the international community as well as local opposition and rights activists. Bloomberg has more.
The 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. The National League for Democracy and other opposition groups have 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.