Ahead of elections in Myanmar this weekend, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is not optimistic about the way it will be conducted.
Speaking at the final news conference before the poll, the pro-democracy advocate highlighted voting irregularities discovered – such as thousands of names of dead people on the electoral roll – and intimidation that stopped her party holding rallies during the campaign.
“I don’t think we can consider it a genuinely free and fair election if we take into consideration what has been going on in the last couple of months, but still as we wish to work towards national reconciliation we will try to tolerate what has happened,” Suu Kyi told reporters.
This election comes one year after the transition from military rule to a nominally-civilian government. There are 1,160 candidates on the ballots for 45 seats.
“My main concern is that we want to live in peace. Other things aren’t important,” said one man.
Another prospective voter thought the ballot might mark a watershed: “I’m excited, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope everything will change.”
“Yes, we need democracy,” said another man, hoping the people who win the 45 seats up for grabs will make a difference.
The EU and US will lift sanctions if they decide the election has been free and fair, and Suu Kyi is running for parliament for the first time.
There is hope for change after the new government surprisingly passed reforms in recent months including the release of political prisoners, truces with rebel groups and a dramatic easing of media censorship.