Myanmar's Suu Kyi Warns Of Voter List Problems

Published March 8, 2012 2:18PM (EST)

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi charged Thursday that official voter lists for next month's by-elections include dead people and open the possibility for fraud.

Suu Kyi called on the international community to watch closely how the elections proceed and how the official election commission deals with complaints of electoral irregularities before determining their policy toward Myanmar.

The United States and other Western nations applied economic and political sanctions against Myanmar because of its former military regime's undemocratic rule and poor human rights record. But they have started considered easing the sanctions since an elected — though military-backed — government took power last year and began instituting reforms.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is fielding candidates for all 48 seats at stake in the April 1 by-elections.

Speaking after a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird at her house in Yangon, Suu Kyi said her party had "just discovered there are many, many irregularities on the voter lists and we have applied to the Elections Commission to do something about this."

"So I would like to watch very closely what's happening to make sure that the elections are free and fair before you decide what the next step should be with regard to the sanctions," she said.

There had been complaints that many people were left off the voter list and names of dead people were on there, she said, calling on the election commission to act quickly on her party's protests.

Baird told the media that Canada would heed Suu Kyi.

"I would be very thrilled to begin to lift the Canadian sanctions against the current government here, but obviously we want to watch closely the next three and a half weeks of the campaign," he said.

During his meeting with Suu Kyi, Baird conferred honorary Canadian citizenship upon the Nobel peace laureate.

Her party won a 1990 general election, but the military did not allow it to take power. It boycotted the 2010 election, complaining that it was being held under unfair and undemocratic conditions.

By Salon Staff

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