U.S. welcomes Myanmar’s invitation to observe April 1 by-elections

Myanmar Suu Kyi

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves supporters after she delivers a speech during her election campaign in Dagon Port township Wednesday

The U.S. welcomed Myanmar’s invitation to observe April 1 by-elections which include Aung San Suu Kyi as cautioning that the voting process falls short of international standards.

According to Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Myanmar this week invited teams from 25 countries and the European Union to monitor the special elections for 48 seats in the 664-member Parliament. The U.S. will try their best organize its efforts with other nations, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

“This is a good first step,” she stated in Washington yesterday, according to a transcript. “Burma hasn’t allowed international observation before, but it does fall short of international complete transparency on an election, and we hope they’ll continue to keep the system open, and open it further.”

U.S. and European Union policy makers are looking to the April 1 ballot as a test to determine whether to boost sanctions in place for more than twenty years on the country formerly known as Burma. President Thein Sein has released hundreds of dissidents, sought peace with ethnic groups and taken steps to open Myanmar’s economy since taking power a year ago.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party is running for all the seats vacated by parliamentarians who were named to Cabinet posts or other executive positions in Thein Sein’s government. It refused a 2010 election that ended more than five decades of army rule.