As the counting of votes began after Myanmar's weekend elections, clashes occurred between ethnic armed forces and Army troops in a border town. The Junta has placed the country under a 90-day state of emergency.
A local polling station in Kachin state, northern Myanmar
Vote counting in Myanmar's first election in 20 years began Monday amid accusations of voter intimidation and fraud as well as condemnation by the international community that the weekend election was neither free nor fair.
As counting of votes got underway, a fire fight erupted between a splinter group of armed forces from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Army in the border town of Myawaddy leading to hundreds of people being forced to flee into Thailand for safety. Reports also say the government has placed the country under a 90-day state of emergency.
Army-backed parties set to sweep Polls
Over 3,000 candidates had stood from 37 parties for national parliament and regional assemblies in Sunday's vote. But harsh election laws had prevented several parties from taking part including opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy or NLD.
A Myanmar soldier gestures while talking with police officers as they provide security during the election
Parties aligned to the ruling military, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and National Unity Party, were set to win a majority of seats. The armed forces are also guaranteed a quarter of parliamentary seats under a 2008 constitution.
Ron Hoffman, Canadian Ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar, said the international community needs to keep pressure on Myanmar’s military. "It's not a democratic exercise. It doesn't even come close to meeting any standard of international electoral processes."
Aung San Suu Kyi's detention expires on Saturday
Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, says the parliament will have little power but to act as a rubber stamp for the military leaders. He says the parliament will be dominated by the regime backed candidates after the elections. "And the parliamentarians will have no other chance but to become a rubber stamp parliament to endorse the executive council or the national security and defence council, by name. This would be headed by the president and also the commander in chief. This council will run the country after all."
Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon 2009
Analysts are now watching whether the military will release Aung San Suu Kyi from detention, expected next Saturday. If the Nobel laureate is freed analysts expect she will face tough restrictions after spending much of the past two decades under detention.
Author: Ron Corben
Editor: Arun Chowdhury