What is the real purpose of the so-called democratic elections in Myanmar? Its military leaders say the vote - the first in 20 years - will usher in a genuine, multi-party democracy for its estimated 50 million citizens.

Western critics have dismissed the elections, characterising them as a political non-event and a ploy for the military junta to continue its reign through a civilian facade. 


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Some of Myanmar's ethnic minority groups are boycotting the vote, while the militias representing them are gearing up for potential confrontation with the military.

So far the government has cancelled voting in villages where ethnic minorities are dominant, leaving at least 1.5 million people unable to participate.

On Wednesday's Riz Khan, we ask: What was behind the junta's decision to hold elections, and what will it take to achieve reconciliation with the country's ethnic minority groups?

Riz speaks to Thaung Htun, the Burmese government in exile's UN representative; Min Zin, an exiled Burmese journalist; and David Williams, a professor at the Indiana University's School of Law, who has served as a constitutional reform adviser to some of Myanmar's ethnic minority groups.

This episode of Riz Khan aired from Wednesday, November 3, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera