Myanmar announces restrictions on election campaigning

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 19, 2010 06:10 hrs

Military-ruled Myanmar Thursday announced restrictions on campaigning for November's general election that it said were to assure the polls are 'free and fair'.

Candidates wishing to address the public must apply for permission at least seven days in advance, according to the 13-point regulations issued by the Union Election Commission and published in newspapers Thursday.

Candidates are prohibited from causing any disturbances in public places and disrupting traffic, the regulations said.

'It is hereby announced that candidates and election representatives are to honour this notification in assembling, giving public talks and distributing publications for their candidates to win in the elections to ensure that the multi-party democracy general

elections due to be held in 2010 are free and fair,' the notification said.

The election, the country's first in 20 years, is to be held Nov 7. More than 40 parties have been permitted to contest the polls. They have until Aug 30 to submit their list of candidates.

Approved parties include the pro-government Union Solidarity and Development Party, the junta-founded National Unity Party and the National Democratic Force (NDF), a breakaway faction of Myanmar's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led

by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, which is boycotting the polls.

On Thursday, the NDF opened an office in Mandalay, Myanmar's second-largest city.

'I think we will field over 100 candidates nationwide,' NDF chairman Khin Maung Swe said. Myanmar's junta recently announced the creation of 330 political constituencies.

Myanmar last held a general election in 1990, which the NLD won by a landslide, but the ruling military junta has blocked the NLD from power.

Few observers expected the polls to bring drastic changes to Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962.

A clause in the new constitution allows the military control over any future elected government by making the upper house of the National Parliament a partially junta-appointed body with veto power over legislation.

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