Yangon: Myanmar’s military junta unveiled a timetable for the country’s first elections in two decades, but it was unclear on Sunday if detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be allowed to stand.
The surprise weekend announcement of a constitutional referendum in May to set the stage for elections in 2010 appeared to catch her National League for Democracy off guard.
If held, the elections would be the first since 1990, when her NLD swept to victory, only for the military to refuse to accept that result.
Western nations have been piling pressure on the hard line regime to reform since it bloodily suppressed mass pro-democracy protests in September.
The rallies, spearheaded by Buddhist monks, posed the biggest challenge to military rule in nearly 20 years, and the United Nations estimates at least 31 people were killed in the ensuing crackdown.
Thailand-based Myanmar analyst Win Min said the junta was trying to defuse both international pressure and lingering domestic tensions by announcing its timetable.
The Junta “may worry about possible mass movements again, so this is to cool down the people not to do demonstrations,” he said.
The official New Light of Myanmar newspaper devoted its front page today to a warning from senior junta leader Thn Shwe.
He accused unnamed “destructive elements” of trying “to constantly hinder and sabotage our development tasks,” also urging the public to “always remain vigilant against these elements and ward off the dangers posed by them.” (AFP) WDA