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Burmese savour taste of democracy

March 24, 2012

Only a small proportion of Burma's parliamentary seats are being contested in by-elections in April, but with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi standing for the first time, the campaign has considerable significance.

Only a small proportion of Burma's parliamentary seats are being contested in by-elections in April, but with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi standing for the first time, the campaign has considerable significance.

There is a joke they like to tell in Burma about a man with terrible toothache.

He goes to a dentist in neighbouring Thailand who asks: "Aren't there any dentists in your country that you can visit?"

"Yes, there are," replies the man. "The problem is that in Burma you're not allowed to open your mouth."

But now the Burmese are opening their mouths and, after nearly half a century of military rule, they will make their voices heard at the ballot box next weekend.

The poll will not change the balance of power here, of course, but there is little doubt that, if the voting is free and fair, Aung San Suu Kyi will be taking up a seat in parliament.

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