Prime Minister Thein Sein on Tuesday urged businessmen to display unity with the country’s military government ahead of elections planned for next year.

Unity ahead of elections’
The country’s ruling junta has announced the polls under its so-called ‘roadmap to democracy’ but critics have denounced the vote as a sham designed to entrench the generals’ rule.

Mr Thein Sein told an annual meeting of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the capital Naypyidaw that businessmen should help the government.

‘As the government is implementing the tasks step by step within the timeframe towards a new democratic nation which people expect, the main step of the country’s future elections will be held,’ Mr Thein Sein said.

‘I believe that we can implement this road map to form the Union of Republic of Myanmar by uniting together with national businessmen,’ he said.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962 and is under tough sanctions by the US and European countries because of its human rights records and continued detention of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military regime plans to hold the elections under a new constitution that was approved in May last year, days after Cyclone Nargis devastated southern regions of the country and left 138,000 people dead or missing.

‘We need future plans to… overcome all political disturbances to the nation as well as challenges especially in this global economic crisis,’ Mr Thein Sein said.

The chairman of the business group, Win Myint, said they would follow the premier’s call. ‘We businessmen will act unitedly as per the prime minister’s instructions,’ he told AFP.

‘We have made no preparations recently for coming 2010 elections but our organization will help (the government) in a private capacity. We welcome the coming elections,’ he said. — AFP

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