Burma electoral laws '70 percent complete'
Speculation has been rife over the possible date of Burma's first elections since 1990, with eyes now fixed to the latter part of 2010, most likely October. The ruling junta has confirmed only that they will be held this year.
A number of potential runners in the elections have said however that the lack of confirmation from the ruling junta of both the date and the laws governing polling has hindered their ability to prepare, and may force their withdrawal.
Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya told Reuters yesterday after a meeting with Nyan Win that "60 to 70 percent" of the electoral and political party laws had been completed.
"You take another two or three months to make it 100 percent, so it will take you by that time from the mathematical, or the guessing point of view, to the middle of this year," he said. "So, I think the elections would be most probably in the second half."
According to information leaked from a meeting between the head of a prominent Japanese charity and the chief of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a proxy of the Burmese junta, the elections will be held in October, most likely on the 10th.
The 10/10/2010 date would be in keeping with the junta's fixation on numerology, which has dictated many of the key decisions of the military since it took power, including currency devaluations and the 1990 election date.
Nyan Win also sought to assure Piromya that elections would be "free and fair", following criticism from the international community that constitution, supposedly ratified by 92 percent of the country in the weeks following cyclone Nargis in May 2008, would entrench military rule.
Indonesia's foreign minister echoed international concerns but said that delays to announcing the election date may remedy this.
"For us the main criterion, or the main preoccupation, would be that we have that necessary positive, democratic atmosphere for a credible election to take place," he said, after meeting Nyan Win at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Vietnam.
"It's best to allow things for such conditions to be established rather than to rush into it and then we have a situation where the ideal condition is not there."
Reporting by Francis Wade