PostHeaderIcon Suu Kyi party to boycott election

NLD supporters meet outside party headquarters in Rangoon on 29 March 2010

Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy is meeting to decide whether to participate in military-run elections set for this year.

New laws announced by the junta would require the NLD to expel its detained leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, because she has a criminal record.

The laws also bar all political prisoners from taking part.

Ms Suu Kyi recently said she opposed participation in the polls but that the party should make its own decision.

Members of the youth wing of the NLD have already decided not to take part in the elections, the Irrawaddy magazine reported.

But some senior NLD leaders argue the party risks rendering itself irrelevant if it chooses not to contest the polls, even though that participation would be constrained by the military.


About 100 representatives of NLD branches from around the country were attending Monday’s meeting in Rangoon.

The party has six weeks to register for the election – the date of which has not yet been announced – or risk dissolution.

Aung San Suu Kyi (file image)

If it chooses to take part, that would imply its acceptance of the military’s constitution – something it has so far refused to do.

Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Nyan Win, said she had told him the NLD should "not even think" of taking part in the polls.

"She will never accept registration under unjust laws, but her personal opinion is not to give orders nor instructions to the NLD," he quoted her as saying last week.

But one party spokesman, Khin Maung Swe, said he was "strongly in favour" of registering for what would be the first election in two decades.

Win Tin, a veteran NLD member and one of Burma’s longest serving political prisoners, described the meeting as a "life-or-death issue".

"If we don’t register, we will not have a party and we will be without legs and limbs," he said.

Burma’s new election laws state that parties cannot have any members with criminal convictions.

The laws also ban members of religious orders and civil servants from joining political parties. Buddhist monks were the driving forces behind anti-junta protests in 2007.

The NLD won the last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power. Ms Suu Kyi has spent much of the past two decades in some form of detention.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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