Myanmar's military government announced Tuesday the enactment of a law setting out rules for a May referendum on a new constitution, but did not give an exact date for the vote.
State TV and radio evening news broadcasts made the declaration and said a 45-member "Referendum Convening Commission" has been set up to oversee the process.
The announcement said the law, to be published Wednesday in state-run newspapers, covers matters such as preparation of electoral rolls, voting procedures and reporting of results, as well as restrictions and punishments for violations of its statutes.
The announcement did not address critics' claims that the constitutional process is undemocratic.
On Feb. 9 the government said it planned the referendum _ the first time the junta has set any date for a step in its earlier-announced "roadmap to democracy."
But it has not released an exact date for the vote or the text of the draft constitution, which a committee hand-picked by the military completed on Feb. 19.
The ruling junta's plans have been widely criticized for failing to include any input from opponents of military rule, especially the opposition National League for Democracy party of detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party won a 1990 general election, but the junta refused to let it take power.
Critics of the junta have also complained that earlier-adopted guidelines for writing the new constitution were designed to perpetuate military control.
The announcement said the Referendum Convening Commission would be chaired by Chief Justice Aung Toe and the 45 commission members comprised mostly representatives of the country's ethnic minorities, as well as at least two legal experts.
Myanmar has not had a constitution since 1988, when the current junta took power after violently suppressing mass pro-democracy demonstrations.
The army has ruled the country virtually continuously since a 1962 coup.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under international pressure to make democratic reforms, especially since it violently crushed peaceful mass protests last September. The U.N. estimates at least 31 people were killed and thousands more were detained in the crackdown.