The EU has been urged to press Burma to ensure that its elections next month are "transparent and open" (


The EU has been urged to press Burma to ensure that its elections next month are "transparent and open"

by Martin Banks

The appeal comes ahead of a meeting on Wednesday in parliament between the assembly's president Jerzy Buzek and José Ramos-Horta, president of the democratic republic of Timor Leste.

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is also due to give a keynote address to parliament's mini-plenary on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Portuguese MEP Maria da Graca Carvalho appealed to the EU to "put pressure" on Burma to ensure the elections are "fair and open."

The EPP deputy, who was flanked by Ramos-Horta, said, "We are very worried about the current situation in Burma, in particular the violation of human rights.

"We want parliament to push the commission more in calling for a fair and free election.

"Some member states, including the UK and Czech Republic, have already come out publicly and stated much the same thing but we have not heard much, thus far, from the EU side.

"The time is right now for the EU to produce a clear position on Burma and, in particular, these elections."

The demand comes after it was revealed earlier this week that detained Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has filed a legal challenge against the dissolution of her political party, the National League for Democracy.

Burma's military government formally abolished the NLD in May for failing to register for elections due on 7 November.

The party is boycotting the poll, which it says will be a sham.

It won a landslide victory in Burma's last general election 20 years ago, but was never allowed to take power.

Burma, also known as Myanmar, is ruled by a military junta which suppresses almost all dissent and wields absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions.

The generals and the army stand accused of gross human rights abuses, including the forcible relocation of civilians and the widespread use of forced labour, which includes children.