Gordon Brown guest edits wife's Twitter feed for Burma

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has taken his first steps onto Twitter - guest editing his wife Sarah's account to campaign for Burmese democracy.

Mr Brown, listed as "MP, activist, Dad, Raith Rovers fan Mr @SarahBrownUK", tweeted three times on Sunday morning.

His first read: "Until Aung San Suu Kyi the world's most courageous prisoner of conscience is no longer denied a voice, we must all give her ours."

His move came as Burma held its first national election since 1990.

Mrs Brown has built up more than a million followers for her Twitter account and has been one of the UK's highest profile tweeters.

The tweets from Mr Brown, who resigned as prime minister after losing the election in May, did not seem to harm that popularity, with more than 1,000 new followers added in little over an hour on Sunday.

Ruling generals in Burma say the polls mark a transition to democratic civilian rule, but critics say they are a sham.

'Voting proceeding calmly'

Foreign Secretary William Hague said they were "flawed" with the result set to be a "foregone conclusion".

"More than 2,100 political prisoners remain incarcerated, opposition and ethnic parties have been refused the right to stand and a quarter of the seats are already reserved for the military.

"Holding flawed elections does not represent progress. The British Government will stand by the people of Burma and will continue to maintain pressure on the regime until we see real progress on democracy, governance and human rights."

The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, boycotted the vote.

BURMA ELECTION: NUMBERS

  • First election in 20 years
  • Total of 37 parties contesting the polls
  • 29 million voters eligible to cast ballots
  • 1.5 million ethnic voters disenfranchised because areas deemed too dangerous for voting to take place
  • About 3,000 candidates of whom two-thirds are running for junta-linked parties
  • No election observers, no foreign journalists

Observers said voting proceeded calmly, although opposition parties said it was manipulated.

"The authorities of various levels forced the people to cast advance votes," said Sai Ai Pa O - president of Shan National Democratic Party, which is fielding the fourth largest number of candidates.

"We are not allowed to send representatives to the polling stations at the time of advance voting," he said. "If the election was free and fair, I am sure we would win at least 80% of seats."

Foreign journalists and monitors have not been allowed into the country for the election.

EU ambassador David Lipman said that people voted in a calm atmosphere with no visible presence either of the army or police.

Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, of the Democratic Party, said she was "quite surprised to see a lot of people come to vote. 'No Vote' campaigns have appeared to be ineffective".

Opposition party officials said the pro-junta party had told voters they could lose their jobs if they failed to vote for military-backed candidates.

The two junta-linked parties are fielding by far the largest number of candidates.

The National League for Democracy - which won the last polls in 1990 but was never allowed to take power - has been forced to disband after it said it was not participating because of laws which banned Ms Suu Kyi from taking part.

Other parties that are contesting the polls have struggled to fund campaigns and have complained of harassment.

Burma has been hit in recent days by major internet disruption, which some believe is an attempt by the junta to restrict communications over the poll period.

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