Myanmar’s junta deputy leader General Maung Aye has urged military officers to take responsibility for the success of elections planned for next year, a state newspaper said.

In a speech at a graduation ceremony for new officers, the general told recruits that it was their job to ensure the country’s transition to a mature democracy, the New Light of Myanmar reported.

“I would say you are responsible for the democratic transition, in cooperation with the people, to ensure the successful completion of 2010 elections,” Maung Aye told the gathering in the military town of Bahtoo in Shan State.

“Some countries have faced instability and electoral violence because political parties attacked one another in canvassing for votes… because their democracy had not been mature enough,” he was quoted as saying. The military government has announced the polls next year under its so-called “roadmap to democracy” but critics have denounced the vote as a sham designed to entrench the generals’ rule.

The elections are to be held 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.

Officials estimate there are at least 500,000 members of the armed forces in this nation of 57.5 million people.

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.

Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the junta did not allow it to take office.

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