Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is not going to vote in the 7 November elections called by the country’s military junta, this according to her lawyer, Nyan Win. Even if she is on the voters’ list, he said, she is not going to cast a ballot. Meanwhile, reports from last Saturday’s official visit of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to Myanmar are top news in Thailand. Discussions focused on the economy, cooperation and border controls; human rights were also mentioned.
Myanmar goes to the polls on 7 November to choose a new parliament for the first time since the current military junta took over 20 years ago. A step towards democracy according to the country’s leaders, a farce for the opposition, designed to whitewash the military regime’s image, nothing more. In fact, 25 per cent of the seats are already reserved for the military.
Through her lawyer, National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi said that the NLD would not take part in the vote. For Ms Suu Kyi, there was no party she would vote for even if she could. This puts to rest previous reports that she would take part in the election.
For Nyan Win, the Nobel Prize laureate is not voting for another reason. After spending 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest, letting her vote would violate the junta’s own law, which prevents convicted prisoners from voting.
If she voted she would break the law, the NLD leader apparently said. In fact, her house arrest ends on 13 November, almost a week after the vote. If she is to vote, she should be released, if not, voting would be a violation.
In neighbouring Thailand, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s visit to Myanmar last Saturday is the main topic. During the one-day trip, leaders from the two countries discussed bilateral relations: cooperation, border issues, drug trafficking, trade, investments and joint projects. The upcoming elections and human rights were also mentioned.
In Myanmar’s capital of Naypyidaw, Mr Abhisit met Myanmar’s Prime Minister, General Thein Sein. Later, he met General Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development of the Union of Myanmar, during a working breakfast.
In the afternoon, he flew to Yangon where he met with the Thai ambassador to discuss policies towards Myanmar in light of the upcoming election and more broadly the future.
The prime minister told reporters that now is “an appropriate time to tighten relations between the two countries”. He also apparently spoke about Aung San Suu Kyi and the more than 2,000 political prisoners languishing in Burmese prisons.