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NEWS UPDATES 1 November 2010

Junta could stay

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Myanmar's military rulers threatened on Monday to cling to power if the public abstained from voting in Sunday's long-awaited election and blamed foreign media for trying to derail the poll. The military, which has run the country since a 1962 coup, said 13 foreign news organisations had colluded with opposition movements to discourage people from voting and create 'great troubles' for the country.

'If the election is aborted (by voters) there will not be a government that's elected by vote of the people,' all state-controlled newspapers, which serve as mouthpieces for the reclusive regime, said in a commentary.

'The ruling government would have no choice but to remain in charge of state security until it holds another election. If so, this will take a long time,' it said, adding that Myanmar's plan to become a democracy took more than a decade to draft.

It was the first time the junta has made such a threat, or mentioned the possibility of a no-vote campaign ahead of the election, which critics say is a sham to cement the military's iron-fisted grip on power.

In the absence of any real opposition to two big parties backed by the military, activists and analysts say a significant boycott by voters would be the only means of expressing public opposition to the election.

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