Burma opposition party decry restrictions

Sept 9, 2009 (DVB), Burma's main political opposition party has criticised the ruling junta for restricting the group's political activity prior to the 2010 elections, despite allowing other organisations to campaign.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party, whose leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest, sent a letter of complaint to junta supremo Than Shwe last week.

The letter referred to the National League for Politics of the Union of Burma, an unregistered group who operate in central Burma's Magwe division and who have been allowed to open offices and begin campaigning.

The NLD's spokesperson, Nyan Win, said that no response has been made so far by the government.

"In the letter, we pointed out that groups that don't have registration, thus illegitimate, are being allowed to open offices, put up signboards, campaign and hold gatherings," he said.

"At the same time, the NLD, who won the previous elections [in 1990], is having its offices closed down and is being barred from doing political activities."

Political organisation for the NLD is difficult, with telephone lines regularly cut and many of its members behind bars.

Next year's elections, scheduled for March, will be the first since in 20 years.

The junta is promising a return to a civilian government, although critics say that the redrafted 2008 constitution guarantees an entrenchment of military of military rule.

The government has embarked on a campaign to pressure Burma's multiple ceasefire groups into forming political parties to run in the elections, although heavy resistance has been met.

Growing pressure surrounding the issue sparked recent fighting between Burmese troops and an armed ethnic group in the country's northeastern Shan state, causing around 37,000 people to flee into China.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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