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Myanmar referendum law allows free voting, open counting of votes
27/2/2008 16:15

Myanmar's constitutional referendum law, which was published in today's state media, allows free casting of votes and open counting of them on a constitution draft to ensure the forthcoming nationwide referendum on the draft, slated for May, be free and fair.
The law allows secret casting of votes into the ballot box that is publicly visible to ensure it is free and ballots be counted in the presence of voters as soon as the ballot box closes to ensure it is fair according to the referendum law made public on the state-run Myanmar-language daily Myanmar Alin.
The law warned against acts aimed at undermining the referendum, banning public speeches and disseminating of leaflets and posters in an attempt to disturb the running of the referendum.
Law-breakers will be punished with a prison term of up to three years or a fine in cash up to 100,000 Kyats (nearly US$100), the law stated.
The ruling Myanmar military government Tuesday enacted a 12- chapter 31-provision 2008 Republic of Union of Myanmar Referendum Law and set up a commission for a nationwide constitutional referendum.
The move, declared by the State Peace and Development Council ( SPDC), came a week after the government's State Constitution Drafting Commission announced the completion of the constitution draft on Feb. 19 which will seek its approval in the forthcoming referendum.
Formed under the referendum law, the 45-member Commission for Holding Nationwide Referendum is headed by Chief Justice U Aung Toe who was also chairman of the State Constitution Drafting Commission.
According to Feb. 9 government announcement, a nationwide referendum will be held in May this year to seek the whole country people's approval on the constitution draft and a multi-party democracy general election to transform the military administration into democratic administration to follow in 2010 in accordance with the government's seven-step roadmap to democracy.
The new constitution had been drafted by the government-formed state constitution drafting commission since Dec. 3 last year, based on the detailed basic principles laid down in the years-long national convention which started in 1993 and ended in September last year. That national convention was participated by over 1,000 delegates coming from eight categories of delegate groups including national races and turned-in former anti-government ethnic armed groups.
According to the government's roadmap announced in August 2003, the new constitution draft is to be endorsed through a national referendum, then a general election will follow to produce parliament representatives and form a new democratic government.