Minister Cannon Expresses Concern over Burmese Elections

(No. 356 - November 8, 2010 - 3:25 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on Burma’s election, which took place on November 7, 2010:

“The Government of Canada has been following the electoral process in Burma with great concern. Canada repeatedly called on the Burmese regime to conduct a free, fair, inclusive and transparent electoral process in line with international standards and democratic principles. We made it clear that without the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and genuine dialogue with members of the opposition and ethnic groups in Burma, the election could not be considered credible.

“Canada is deeply disappointed that the regime did not live up to its own commitment to hold a free and fair election. We are also concerned by reports of outbreaks of violence in border areas in the aftermath of the election.

“Despite the flawed electoral process, Canada supports the Burmese people in their efforts to create real democracy in their country, whether through participation in the election or principled rejection of it. Canada applauds the courage of those individuals who, despite severe restrictions, overcame numerous obstacles to stand for election as independent candidates or members of democratic parties.

 “Canada also commends the efforts of civil society organizations and independent media who have sought to increase awareness and understanding of democratic rights and processes among the Burmese people. We look forward to engaging with these stakeholders as they continue working to build a truly democratic Burma.

“Canada joins its partners around the world in calling for a transition to genuine democracy in Burma rather than to a political façade aimed at legitimizing the status quo. The Burmese people have every right to expect a fully civilian, legitimate, accountable system of government based on the rule of law; the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press; and the participation of all levels of society in the country’s economic and social development.

“Canada is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and stands ready to support democratic transition in Burma. Canada already provides significant support to the Burmese people through its $15.9-million Burma Border Assistance Program: Building Social Capital and $120,000 Canada Fund for Local Initiatives-Burma-Related Projects in Thailand.”

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Jacques Labrie
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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