02/13/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Referendum: the people support the 'no' vote; all religious excluded from the balloting

According to "Generation '88" activists, the new constitution to be voted on in May is only another instrument to "enslave" the country. The population wants to vote 'no', but it is certain that the junta will manipulate results in its favour. The door-to-door campaign of the military to force people to come to the polls.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Whether they want to or not, the people of Burma will go to the ballot boxes in May to vote for the new constitution.  And even if most of the population wants to vote 'no' on the charter, the result will be in favour of the military junta.  These are the opinions that have been registered in Yangon and Mandalay, where the people's sense of frustration is increasing after the regime's  announcement of voting in May, and the general elections in 2010.

AsiaNews sources in the former capital confirm that "no one wants the new constitution", which is entirely designed  to guarantee the generals complete control over the country. "But we are forced to go to the ballot box", they relate, "soldiers come to the cities and villages and, house by house, force us to go to the polls".  "Even if we vote 'no'", they continue, "we are now certain, considering the precedents, that the government will manipulate the vote in its favour".  But the religious of any creed will not be allowed to vote, since their right to do so is not recognised: Christian priests, Muslim imams, and above all Buddhist monks.  These are the same ones who in September became the spokesmen of the people's disaffection, demonstrating against the government at the price of persecution and death. 

The "Generation '88" activists decry the announcement by the junta, which took place last weekend, as "a declaration of war against the Burmese people, a tool to make us slaves of the Tatmadaw" (the Burmese army).  And they are calling the people to "fight" for a better future.

And beyond the "good intentions" of proceeding with the "road map" for democracy, the generals seem to be nervous.  Security has been stepped up in Yangon: the public restrooms, where bombs were placed last month, have been closed, and  civil security officers are checking and marking down the license plates of all the vehicles that come into the city, the agency Mizzima News reports.

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