Myanmar to consider ASEAN poll monitors


Myanmar has promised to “seriously consider” allowing Southeast Asian observers for by-elections marking the opposition’s return to mainstream politics, the ASEAN regional bloc said Tuesday. The April 1 polls, which will see Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi stand for a seat in parliament for the first time, are viewed as a key test of the military-backed government’s commitment to budding reforms. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said in a statement that Myanmar President Thein Sein made the pledge to its visiting Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan during talks in the capital Naypyidaw. “We will seriously consider having observers from ASEAN … during the April elections,” Thein Sein was quoted as saying. A 2010 election which swept the army’s political allies to power was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and intimidation. Foreign election observers and international media were not allowed into the country for that vote, which was denounced by Suu Kyi’s opposition party and Western powers as lacking legitimacy.