Myanmar to rule on holding Suu Kyi

Opposition rejects constitution referendum outcome as supporters are detained.

    Aung San Suu Kyi has been held for 12
    of the last 18 years [AFP]

    Suu Kyi has been confined for 12 of the past 18 years, her latest period of arrest beginning in 2003.


    On Tuesday, police detained more than a dozen members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party while they were marching from the party's headquarters to her home.


    Riot police shoved the group into a truck. It was not immediately known how many people were detained.


    Referendum rejected


    The NLD also

    rejected the outcome of Myanmar's referendum on a military-backed constitution, calling the approval of the text a "sham".

    "The referendum is not free and fair," the party said in its first official reaction to the junta's claim of victory.

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    The military government said on Monday that voters in the cyclone-hit country overwhelmingly approved the constitution that critics say will perpetuate the military's decades-old grip on power.

    The overall turnout for the referendum - held in two phases - was 26.8 million out of 27.4 million eligible voters or 98 per cent, state radio said.
    The generals said the constitution was approved by 92.5 per cent of voters.

    They ignored international calls to delay the referendum, using up precious resources despite the UN saying three quarters of cyclone victims had yet to receive any aid.

    Myanmar's military says it is helping to guide
    the country to democracy [GALLO/GETTY]

    The first phase was carried out on May 10 just a week after Cyclone Nargis struck the country, leaving an estimated 134,000 dead or missing.


    The second phase was held on May 24 in the hard-hit areas of the Irrawaddy delta and Yangon despite the UN saying that 2.4 million people were affected by the storm and were in danger of dying from hunger or disease.


    The military government says the constitution will pave the way for a general election in 2010.


    Undemocratic provisions


    The constitution guarantees 25 per cent of parliamentary seats to the military and allows the president to hand over all power to the military in a state of emergency.


    In depth

    Going to the polls

    Asia's worst storms

    Satellite photos:
    Before and after

    Why Myanmar's generals shun foreign aid

    Critics say these provisions go against the military government's professed commitment to democracy.


    The new charter would also bar Suu Kyi from running.

    Suu Kyi led her NLD party to a landslide victory in the last national elections, held in 1990.

    But the military did not recognise the result.

    The voting was held on a weekend of intense diplomatic and political activity in the South-East Asian nation.

    In Video

    Myanmar exiles overseas angry over cyclone inaction

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, spent three days in Myanmar to press the government to accept a full-scale cyclone relief effort, although he left the country on Saturday during the second phase of the referendum.

    The poll was held on the eve of an international donor conference that raised $100m for cyclone victims.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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