YANGON (Myanmar) - MYANMAR'S pro-junta party has told voters they could lose their jobs if they fail to vote for military-backed candidates in Sunday's elections, opposition party officials said, casting more doubt on the legitimacy of the nation's first ballot in 20 years.

Officials with the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party have also punished voters who cast early ballots for other parties, the opposition leaders said on Saturday - adding to already deep worries about the regime's promised 'roadmap to democracy.' In Yangon, the country's largest city, there was little fanfare on the eve of the balloting, with many voters expressing apathy about elections they said had already been orchestrated by the ruling generals.

'This will just be the same old wine with a new label,' said Soe Myint, a 65-year-old retired Yangon schoolteacher, adding that she would not cast a ballot.

Thu Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), said his party had filed a string of complaints against the USDP for campaign violations. 'We will press the election commissions to take actions against these improper practices,' he said as he made a last-minute campaign tour through Yangon.

The military, which has ruled Myanmar with an iron hand since 1962, has billed the elections as a key step in its 'roadmap to democracy.' Critics have widely panned the balloting, the country's first in two decades, as a sham designed to cement military rule. But some in Myanmar - also known as Burma - are holding out hope that they could mark the beginning of a slow democratic transition.

The main opposition party, detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, has refused to take part in the polls, saying the process is unfair and undemocratic. It has been disbanded by the government as a result.

Roadmap to democracy?