- Associated Press - Sunday, November 7, 2010

MUMBAI, India (AP) — The first elections in military-ruled Burma in 20 years were “neither free nor fair,” President Obama said Sunday.

“For too long the people of Burma have been denied the right to determine their own destiny,” he told students at St. Xavier College.

“Even as we do not impose any system of government on other countries, we must always speak out for those human rights that are universal and the right of people everywhere to make their own decision about how to shape their future,” the president said.

Burma, also known as Myanmar, held its first election on Sunday since 1990. Back then, pro-democracy candidate Rangoon villa on and off ever since the ruling generals ignored the 1990 poll results.

In a statement released by the White House after the president met with the students, Mr. Obama called the voting ‘neither free nor fair” and said it didn’t meet “any of the internationally accepted standards associated with legitimate elections.”

“The elections were based on a fundamentally flawed process and demonstrated the regime’s continued preference for repression and restriction over inclusion and transparency,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama pointed to the continued detention of hundreds of political prisoners, including Mrs. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Democracy advocates are hopeful she will be freed sometime after the election, perhaps as early as Nov. 13.

Mr. Obama renewed his call for the release of Mrs. Suu Kyi and the other political prisoners and said the United States will monitor the situation in the country closely.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is in Australia wrapping up a long Asia-Pacific tour, called the elections a reflection of “heartbreaking” repressive conditions in the country.


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