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Ruled by the military for almost five decades, Myanmar holds its first elections in 20 years - elections which have been widely condemned by Western countries as neither free nor fair.

The results of the last elections held in 1990 that gave the opposition a landslide victory were simply dismissed by the military rulers.

Just two years ago, the ruling junta implemented a new constitution calling for the creation of what it calls a "disciplined, flourishing democracy."

The constitution also states that the military will retain a quarter of seats in the two houses of parliament. So now many are criticising these elections and saying the polls guarantee a victory for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party or USDP.
 
Will the country be able to end its decades-long isolation? And do elections legitimise the rule of the already powerful military?

Inside Story, with presenter Dareen Abughaida, discusses with Maung Zarni, a research fellow at the Global Governance Centre at the London School of Economics, Andrew Leung, an economist and the chairman of International Consultants Limited, and Justin Wintle, an historian and the author of the book Perfect Hostage, a biography of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, November 8, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera