Top Republican urges Obama to get tough on Myanmar

"Although the Burmese junta will trumpet the theater performed today as an election -- an exercise only the SPDC considers meaningful -- November 7, 2010 will be just another day in Burma marked by government oppression and hardship for its people," Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday in a statement.

"I urge President Obama to renew his support for Aung San Suu Kyi and democratic forces within Burma and work to ensure that elements of the international community are not tempted to recognize this mockery of the democratic process."

Burma was the country's name before it was changed to Myanmar by the military junta.
McConnell spoke just days after Republicans routed Obama's fellow Democrats in mid-term elections to regain control of the House of Representatives and reduce the Democrats' majority in the Senate.

With Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi still under house arrest and two pro-junta parties fielding about two-thirds of the total candidates, Western powers earlier denounced yesterday's polls as rigged before voting had even been completed.

Obama, on a trip to Asia, said the vote would be "anything but free and fair," and renewed a call for the military regime to free Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners "immediately and unconditionally."

Suu Kyi, who led her party to victory in 1990 elections never recognized by the ruling generals, supported a boycott of yesterday's election.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said the vote was "the culmination of a deeply flawed process and should not be considered legitimate."
"Despite its origins, this government does have an opportunity to bring change," the Massachusetts Democrat added, noting that Suu Kyi's house arrest was set to expire in a few days, and urging the junta to set her free, along with other opposition party members.

"The military's 'roadmap to democracy' will lead to a dead end if the government keeps its political opponents jailed and muzzled."

While conditions for the vote have been widely criticized, some saw the poll as a small step towards democracy after almost five decades of autocratic rule, with opposition parties set to finally get a voice in parliament.

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