via cnn.com

 

Security was tight in Myanmar on Sunday as voters participated in the country’s first election in 20 years — a contest critics say is aimed at creating a facade of democracy.

Riot police roamed streets in the city of Yangon, the former national capital that is also known as Rangoon.

Election workers for the Union for Solidarity and Development (USD) had campaigned in the countryside, where many rural residents didn’t know how to vote. The party is supported by the governing junta of mostly of ex-military members.

“These are our candidates for this region,” a USD election worker told one resident. “It is not important to put down the name of the party, but the people have to know our symbol and make their mark right here.”

Because many citizens in rural areas know so little about the political process, election workers said they also had to show people how to vote.

Their word is very influential — especially in rural areas, where most people in the nation live.

Government critics say the election is a sham.

The country’s ruling military junta has refused to allow international monitors to oversee the election and recently overhauled Myanmar’s constitution in a way critics say is aimed at tightening the regime’s grip.

The constitution now requires more than 100 military nominees in parliament. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

In October, the military regime rejected international monitoring of Sunday’s elections.

“Since we have many experiences in election, we don’t need experts on this issue,” said Thein Soe, chairman of the election commission.

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Article courtesy cnn.com

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