The military junta in Burma said today the nation will have multiparty, democratic elections in 2010, Reuters reports. Opposition leaders greeted the decision with a heavy dose of skepticism and charged that even if the vote goes through, the military will not release its grip on power. The regime has been under heavy international pressure for reform since its violent crackdown on protesters in the fall.
The junta also announced that a referendum on the constitution would be held in May, and the timing puzzled critics. "I was surprised that they announced an election date without knowing the referendum results," said one member of the NLD, the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest. Another democracy group dismissed the announcement as "public relations spin."