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NEWS UPDATES 26 October 2010

Indonesia to continue Myanmar critique

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Indonesia will continue to raise the issue of Myanmar's election during the 17th Asean Summit in Hanoi this week, despite pessimism that global calls for a transparent and fair election will deter that country from playing ball.

Since the Myanmar's military junta's recent announcement it would block international observers and foreign journalists from monitoring and covering the Nov. 7 election, Indonesia had repeatedly urged Myanmar for a more transparent process, the government says.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that while there was no official agenda for the discussion of Myanmar issues during the summit, members would set aside time for this during a session on regional and global current affairs.

President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono, who left Jakarta Monday to visit the Shanghai World Expo, will attend the Asean summit.

Indonesia's standpoint was "crystal clear", Marty said over the weekend, which was proven in the fact that the Indonesian government had repeatedly called on the Myanmar government to fulfill its commitment to carrying out a "free, democratic and transparent" election.

Indonesia had also called on Myanmar "over and over again" to give third parties the opportunity to witness the election process to ensure its credibility, he said.

"Indonesia has provided Myanmar with several options to accommodate the possibility of having election monitors, observers and visitors," Marty said.

With the failure of efforts by Indonesia and ASEAN to engage with the Myanmar leadership, the credibility of its elections would be questionable.

"The consequence is clear. If we can no longer be part of the election process, say, as monitors, our ability to assess everything that happens [during the election] will be affected." Marty said.

However, he also added the Myanmar government's willingness to hold elections should be taken as a step toward the country becoming a democracy.

"We see that after the election there may also be an opportunity for stakeholders in Myanmar to push for democracy," Marty said.

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