Myanmar Junta Claims Win on Constitution

Anti-government groups enraged by timing of announcement
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2008 7:22 AM CDT
Myanmar Junta Claims Win on Constitution
A Myanmar boy walks past a cyclone-damaged restaurant on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar on Thursday, May 15, 2008.   (AP Photo)

Burmese voters overwhelmingly approved a constitution legitimizing military rule, the junta announced to widespread skepticism today. The vote held Saturday did not include two cyclone-ravaged areas where aid to victims is still largely being blocked by the government, but state media said those votes couldn't change the outcome. Turnout elsewhere was pegged at 99%, with 92.4% voting yes.

“This is really insulting to the people of Burma,” said a Human Rights Watch spokesman. The group believes the announcement was timed to distract from the disastrous relief effort. “You would have thought with how busy they were in cleaning up the cyclone that they never would have had time to count this properly,” he said. Local journalists report that rampant voter intimidation and general fear of the military likely suppressed many “no” votes. (More Myanmar stories.)

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