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NEWS UPDATES 23 March 2010

Myanmar opposition to sue military junta over election laws

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Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party will file a lawsuit against Myanmar's ruling military government Tuesday seeking to revoke laws that bar the detained democracy leader and other opposition members from taking part in the country's first elections in two decades, reported the Associated Press.

The junta enacted five election-related laws earlier this month that set out rules for this year's vote. One law prohibits anyone convicted of a crime from being a member of a political party and instructs parties to expel convicted members or face de-registration.

The National League for Democracy's general secretary and one of its founders, Suu Kyi was convicted last year on charges of violating her house arrest when an American man swam uninvited to her lakeside property. She is serving an 18-month term of house arrest and many top members of her party and ethnic-based parties are in prison. Under the new laws they would be barred from the vote.

Nyan Win, spokesman for the NLD, said the party would file a lawsuit against the ruling State Peace and Development Council at the High Court.

"We are taking the legal step against the electoral laws as they are unfair and the laws are a violation of human rights, personal rights and organisational rights," he said.

The polls will be the first since 1990, when Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory. The junta ignored the results of that vote and has kept the Nobel Peace laureate jailed or under detention for 14 of the past 20 years.

The junta says the new laws have formally invalidated the results of the 1990 election because the election law under which those polls were held was repealed by the new legislation.

The elections are part of the junta's long-announced "roadmap to democracy," which critics deride as a sham designed to cement the military's power.

No vote date has been set and the NLD has not decided whether it will take part. The party will decide Friday whether to officially register, the first step toward participating in the elections.

The party has also written a letter to junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe asking its leaders be allowed to have a meeting with Suu Kyi to discuss future policies.


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