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Myanmar's socialist party hopeful of 2008 polls

india Updated: Feb 09, 2007 19:15 IST
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Despite an absence of elections in military-ruled Myanmar in more than 16 years, the country's socialist party is hoping for a vote in 2008.

"We are reviewing our past mistakes and are laying down new strategies to participate in the next elections," said Khin Maung Gyi, general secretary of the National Unity Party.

He has been attending a continuing National Convention to draft guidelines for a new constitution.

The convention is the first step on the ruling junta's seven-stage "road map to democracy," which is supposed to lead to free elections at an unspecified future date.

Khin Maung Gyi said he believes the process could be completed by 2007 and that elections could take place as soon as 2008.

The NUP remains unpopular in Myanmar because its leaders once served in various Cabinet positions under former dictator Ne Win's regime between 1962 and 1988.

The party rarely criticises the current junta. The NUP won only 10 out of 485 seats in the 1990 general elections.

It claims to have more than 500,000 members. Myanmar's most recent junta seized power in 1988 after violently suppressing mass pro-democracy demonstrations.

The military government held an election in 1990, but refused to hand over power after it was won by the National League for Democracy party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

The junta has promised to hold elections after the new constitution is drafted, but so far has not set a timetable for completing the process.

Suu Kyi -- currently under house arrest -- is barred from the meetings.

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