New Delhi – Burma's draft constitution was overwhelmingly approved by voters, state radio announced Thursday.
The announcement read out by Chief Justice Aung Toe, head of the Referendum Holding Committee, said 92.4 percent, or 20,786,596 voters out of the more than 22 million voters, cast ballots in favor of the draft constitution in a referendum held on May 10.
Aung Toe said 1.3 million votes were cast against the draft constitution, while 334,584 ballots were canceled. He put the voter turnout at 99.07 percent.
The results announced were compiled from voting in 278 out of the 325 townships across the country. It excluded 47 townships in the Irrawaddy Delta and Rangoon division, as polling in these regions was postponed until May 24 because of the cyclone.
Critics say the draft constitution is the junta's plan to cement its rule, while authorities say it is part of a long transition to a civilian government. The charter would allow the military to control 25 percent of all legislative seats. The junta has said it would hold multi-party elections in 2010.
Critics say the atmosphere under which the polling took place was far from free and fair. And they blasted the government for going ahead with the referendum in most of the country despite widespread devastation from Cyclone Nargis, which struck May 2 and 3.
A voter in Rangoon division said the referendum results does not reflect the peoples desires as the ruling junta intimidated people to vote in favor of the constitution.
"The result only proves that they [the junta] are doing whatever they want. It is illegitimate," said the voter.