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Western powers dismiss Myanmar election as fraud

Western powers dismissed Myanmar's first election in 20 years on Sunday, denouncing it as rigged even before voting in the military-ruled nation had been completed.

world Updated: Nov 07, 2010 22:41 IST

Western powers dismissed Myanmar's first election in 20 years on Sunday, denouncing it as rigged even before voting in the military-ruled nation had been completed.

With democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi still locked up and two pro-junta parties fielding about two-thirds of the total candidates, world leaders rejected the legitimacy of the poll in a broadside of statements.

US President Barack Obama set the tone in comments from Mumbai, during the second day of his visit to India.

"There are elections that are being held right now in Burma, that will be anything but free and fair," Obama told a town-hall meeting with students there.

"For too long the people of Burma have been denied the right to determine their own destiny," he added, using the former name of the country.

And in a statement released later Sunday he renewed a call to the military regime there to "free Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners immediately and unconditionally."

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also dismissed the election and called for the release of political prisoners.

"Many aspects of these elections are not compatible with internationally accepted standards, notably in the bias against most opposition parties -- such as the NLD -- and their candidates..." said Ashton.

The NLD is Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which decided to boycott the election, though other opposition groups have taken part.

"In this context, the EU repeats its call for the unconditional release of all those detained for their political convictions," said Ashton.

Suu Kyi was under house arrest "on entirely spurious grounds," she added.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague was equally dismissive of the elections.

"We know the result of these elections is already a foregone conclusion. They will not be free, fair or inclusive," Hague said in a statement released from London.

"Holding flawed elections does not represent progress," he said.

"For the people of Burma, it will mean the return to power of a brutal regime that has pillaged the nation's resources and overseen widespread human rights abuses, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, rape and torture," he said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the rights of the opposition NLD and parties representing the country's ethnic minorities had not been respected in the run-up to the vote.

"I call on the Burmese authorities to sincerely commit to the path of dialogue with the whole of the opposition, and with the minorities," he said.