05/03/2010, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Aung San Suu Kyi’s party now illegal

The National League for Democracy will be disbanded on 6 May because of its refusal to register for the upcoming election. The party’s Central Executive Committee made the decision to protest against the exclusion of its leader. Sources tell AsiaNews that malaise and hatred for the military dictatorship are growing.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – The National League for Democracy (NLD), the main opposition party to Myanmar’s ruling military junta, will be disbanded on 6 May. After 21 years, an electoral victory in 1990 never accepted by the junta and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s 14 years under house arrest, the League will be declared illegal because it has refused to register for the upcoming elections. The party’s Central Executive Committee voted unanimously not to take part in the elections, a hard decision to make, to protest against elections rules, especially the one that requires it to expel its leader because of prior convictions.

Like her, many top party officials have suffered, mistreated, tortured and jailed for crimes of opinion. Yet, the NLD said that the struggle for democracy in Myanmar would continue against the military dictatorship, which has ruled the country since 1962.

"We do not feel sad," said Tin Oo, the NLD's 83-year-old deputy leader who has endured several spells in prison. "We have honour. One day we will come back; we will be reincarnated by the will of the people."

In a few days, the military will remove flags and symbols from the party headquarters in Yangon. No matter, “We won't dismantle our party ourselves," said veteran party activist Win Tin, 80, who was released in 2008 after 19 years in jail. “But remember,” he said, “this is nothing new for us. We've seen our offices closed all over the country, our flags and signboards pulled down. We are used to this repression."

General elections are scheduled between October and November of this year, but there is no precise date.

Their purpose is to strengthen the junta’s hold on the country. One quarter of seats in the new parliament will be reserved to the military; soldiers who have recently given up their uniforms will be counted separately as civilians, a way of bulking up military power in the legislature.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was excluded by a law specifically meant to keep her out.

The junta has not been hindered by the international community, which has been largely indifferent to events in the former Burma and has not raised serious objections to the elections. Many countries in fact continue to trade with the regime unconcerned about the suffering of the Burmese people.

Last week, Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, and 20 other officers, quit the military and set up their own party, which is bound to win by a landslide.

Called the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), it will represent the civilian wing of the military regime that will continue to rule Myanmar.

Today, official sources said that 25 parties have applied for registration, and 12 have been admitted by the Election Commission.

Sources told AsiaNews that ordinary people are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the turn of events; a certain malaise is setting in and hatred for the junta is growing.

In one, unprecedented incident, a man blew himself up in a police station, probably moved by this “atmosphere of hatred against the regime.”

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