YANGON, Myanmar -- Voting began in Myanmar's first election in 20 years Sunday amid both a barrage of criticism that the balloting was rigged in favor of the ruling military and hope that some change toward democratic reform might nonetheless follow.
Some 40,000 polling stations across the Southeast Asian country opened shortly after 6 a.m. (2330 GMT) and were to close 10 hours later. The regime left everyone guessing as to when results would be announced, saying only they could come "in time."
However, it was almost certain that through pre-election engineering the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party would emerge as the victor despite widespread popular opposition to 48 years of military rule.The USDP is fielding 1,112 candidates for the 1,159 seats in the two-house national parliament and 14 regional parliaments.
Its closest rival, the National Unity Party with 995 candidates, is backed by supporters of Myanmar's previous military ruler.
The largest opposition party, the National Democratic Force, is contesting just 164 spots.