Hillary Clinton hits out at Burmese junta

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The Independent Online

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit out at Burma's military rulers, calling their weekend elections deeply flawed and a sign of "heartbreaking" repression in the country.

In a speech to Australian university students, Mrs Clinton also called on the military-led government in Fiji to restore democracy in the Pacific island nation.

She said she hoped Burma's election - the first in 20 years - could produce a few new leaders who might change the country's direction.

But she stressed the United States would continue to support an international inquiry into human rights abuses in the country.

Today's elections "once again expose the abuses of the military junta", she told an audience at the University of Melbourne. "It's heartbreaking because the people of Burma deserve so much better."

The vote is being held amid both a barrage of criticism that the balloting is rigged in favour of the military and hope that some change toward democratic reform might nonetheless follow. Mrs Clinton shared that sentiment.

"We hope that perhaps out of these elections some leaders will emerge who know that Burma has to take a different track and cannot continue to do the same thing and realise the potential of their people," she said.