Burma bars elections in 'troubled' areas

A man reads a newspaper in Rangoon. Photo: August 2010
Image caption Burmese will be voting in the country's first elections in two decades

Several areas of Burma will be barred from taking part in November's general election, state media have reported.

State television said the electoral commission had decided that the vote in a number of townships in five states would not be free and fair.

The states are home to armed ethnic groups which have been resisting the Burmese junta's attempts to integrate them into a border guard force.

Critics have already described the elections in Burma (Myanmar) as a sham.

On Thursday, Burmese state TV quoted the electoral commission as saying that "the election will not be held in several constituencies where free and fair elections could not be held".

The commission said the polls would be cancelled in several townships in the states of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan.

It was not immediately clear exactly how many constituencies had been erased from the vote.

Ethnic groups in the five states - mostly along Burma's eastern and northern border - have been seeking more autonomy from the central government since the country's independence in 1948.

Burma has not had a general election since 1990.

The party of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was forcibly disbanded in May, under the new election laws.

The NLD - which won the 1990 polls but was not allowed to take power by the military - is boycotting the November election, describing them as illegitimate and unfair.

Western nations and human rights groups have also said the election will be undemocratic.

However, China has called it an internal matter for Burma and has urged the rest of the world to support it.

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