Thailand President Samak Sundaravej joked with Myanamar‘s visiting president that denying the right of opposition leaders to participate in the upcoming referendum on a proposed new constitution for Burma suggested: “This is the way of a 50% democracy.” There was no visible verbal or physical response from the Burmese general other than a blank stare. However, his government did announce that opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi who has been under house arrest for nearly two decades, would be allowed to vote in the referendum. Of course, specific provisions in the new constitution prohibit her from running for office, but the military junta has decided to demonstrate its respect for democracy by allowing her to cast a vote for a constitution which abrogates, not only her rights, but those of any opposition leader.
The laws governing the referendum prohibit Buddhist monks, and nuns, high ranking Christian and Hindu officials the mentally ill, people living in exile and convicted felons from casting ballots. It is one of those elections in which vote totals can be obtained prior to the first vote being cast.