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11/2/10 Burma (UCAN)  – Catholic priests and others in Myanmar are skeptical about the general elections on Nov. 7, despite the government’s efforts to promote it as a break for the civilian-run country.

“I don’t expect much change after the election, but at least the government is responding to the people’s call for democracy,” said a Yangon Catholic priest, who requested he remain anonymous.

However, the priest added that while the overall poll preparation seems to be in order, the government-backed party obviously has the advantage over the new parties.

Another priest from Loikaw diocese also feels that the contesting parties are not getting equal privileges. “I doubt that the upcoming polls will be fair because only few people are interested and majority do not know the candidates because media channels either malfunction or have been blocked,” he added.

Other people expressed the same doubts and concern for their own security. A retired school teacher who has lived through decades of fear, told that he doesn’t know who the candidates are and asked that he not be named to protect himself.

“Rural people are unaware of their voting rights and are afraid of trouble if they vote,” added a land broker, who also chose anonymity for  safety reasons.

Human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana said he felt Myanmar’s political system is still far from open. “It is clear that the process has not been inclusive,” he added.

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