AP - Myanmar's regime and its proxies faced allegations of fraud and disrupting the flow of news Saturday as they prepared for the army-ruled country's controversial first election in two decades.
Ahead of Sunday's poll, opposition parties accused the regime-backed political group of "cheating" and "threatening" voters in the process, which is already widely criticised as a sham that will cloak ongoing military rule.
Fears were also deepening that the junta was intentionally blocking access to information, with the Internet down across Yangon on Friday.
Few outsiders will be there to bear witness when up to 29 million eligible voters cast their ballots as foreign election observers and international media have been barred from entering the country for the election.
European diplomats have also snubbed official polling station visits, declining an invitation to join what British ambassador Andrew Heyn had already dismissed as a "choreographed tour" on election day.
The British, German, French and Italian representatives in Yangon issued a statement on behalf of the European Union late Friday saying the rules of the inspections meant they were unable to participate.
Days before the election Myanmar's dominant junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was accused of illegally collecting advance votes by the Democratic Party (Myanmar) and National Democratic Force (NDF).
Democratic Party chairman Thu Wai told AFP on Friday that his party was "deeply concerned" about stories of voter intimidation and coercion from all over the country.
"We have learnt that the USDP together with ward authorities are trying to get advance votes by cheating, bribing or threatening people," said a letter from the party to the Union Election Commission in the capital Naypyidaw.
The NDF has made similar accusations but has yet to file them officially.
Thailand-based Myanmar analyst Aung Naing Oo said the USDP was expected to win despite the fact that the party is "hated".
"They will resort to various dirty tricks," he said.
The USDP, formed by ministers who retired from the military in April, gained funding and millions of members when it was merged with the Union Solidarity and Development Association - a powerful pro-junta organisation.
Myanmar's ruling regime enjoys huge advantages ahead of the polls: a quarter of seats in the new legislature are reserved for the army, while opposition parties have suffered crippling obstacles.
Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for much of the past twenty years, remains under house arrest and sidelined from the poll while her now-disbanded National League for Democracy (NLD) is boycotting the process.
Suu Kyi swept her party to power in 1990 but the results were never recognised by the ruling generals.
The Nobel peace laureate's lawyer Nyan Win confirmed on Friday that her youngest son, Kim Aris, had travelled to Bangkok as Suu Kyi awaits possible release when her current sentence expires just days after the election.
Many people in Myanmar, a country where almost one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, prioritise basic needs over politics, while a lack of choice has fuelled disillusionment in the election.
In many constituencies the election is a two-horse race between the USDP and the National Unity Party (NUP), the successor to late dictator Ne Win's Burma Socialist Program Party and the second-largest contender in the poll.
The NUP has also complained about the USDP, exile media group Mizzima News reported.