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Mark MacKinnon on the elections in Myanmar

The opposition to the junta that has ruled Myanmar for almost 50 years was reduced to the role of observer Sunday as the junta ran a carefully choreographed vote expected to replace direct military rule with a loyal civilian government, The Globe's Mark MacKinnon writes Monday.

Mr. MacKinnon and a freelance journalist in Rangoon, who can't be named for security reasons, joined us online Monday to discuss the results of Sunday's election and what those results mean to the future of Myanmar. Mobile users can replay the discussion here.

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The main pro-democracy advocate, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, remains under house arrest, where she has been for most of the time since her election win.

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On the streets of Myanmar's largest city, Rangoon, a reporter saw only a trickle of people going to vote and no line-ups at polling stations.

Early results tallied by the exile newspaper The Irrawaddy showed the junta's Union Solidarity and Development Party already leading, having won six early seats, according to the newspaper's sources. The opposition National Democratic Front had won one.

"There are a few independent or opposition candidates who will be elected, but they will be a tiny minority," predicted Soe Aung, a member of the Forum for Democracy in Burma, an exile group based in Thailand. "This parliament will be a rubber stamp parliament to carry out the decisions of the [military]"

Parties taking part in the election estimated nationwide turnout at 60 per cent or higher (of 29 million eligible voters), but a Myanmarese organization that informally monitored the vote estimated the real number at between 30 and 40 per cent. Britain's ambassador also said he saw no evidence of large numbers of people going to vote.

The turnout rate will perhaps be the most revealing figure to come out of the election. Ms. Suu Kyi's party had been calling for a boycott, while the regime in recent days stepped up a campaign to persuade people to vote. It was unclear when the official results would be released.

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