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UN rights envoy slams Myanmar constitutional referendum as 'surreal'

[JURIST] Myanmar is completely ill-prepared to hold a national constitutional referendum [JURIST report] as part of a democratic political transition, UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile] told Reuters in an interview Monday. Myanmar's 45-member Referendum Holding Commission announced last week that it had scheduled the planned referendum [JURIST reports] for May 10, but Pinheiro said it was "surreal" to hold a referendum while the military government continues to persecute critics of the proposed charter.

Opposition groups such as the National League for Democracy (NLD) have urged citizens to reject [JURIST report] the proposed constitution put forth by the military government, labeling the referendum a "sham" to legalize military rule. AP reported last month that the draft constitution reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military [JURIST report] and would also block pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from seeking office. It is unclear whether the ruling junta will allow international observers of the referendum as requested by the opposition party. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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