Suu Kyi says 'too early' for election decision

It is still too early to make a decision on whether to participate in the Burmese elections this year, detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said.

The ruling junta in Burma is yet to announce either the laws governing participation in the elections nor a date for polling, although rumours are circulating that they could be held in October.

Suu Kyi yesterday met with her lawyer, Nyan Win, at the Rangoon compound where she has been held under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.

“[Suu Kyi] said it is impossible to decide at this time whether or not to enter the elections that authorities are planning in this year,” said Nyan Win.

“She said no election will be free and fair unless there is freedom of information and the freedom of expression. She was not referring to the 2010 elections, but to any elections.”

It is unlikely that the junta will release Suu Kyi, whose party won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections which was subsequently ignored, prior to polling. Even if free, however, several laws in the 2008 constitution bar her from participating.

The constitution, which was rushed through in May 2008 as the country was still reeling from cyclone Nargis, also guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military prior to voting.

Nyan Win said that the party will hold a plenary meeting when the election laws are released to decide whether it will participate.

The high-profile imprisonment yesterday of Burmese-born US citizen Nyi Nyi Aung dealt another blow to expectations that the ruling junta was moving toward democratic reform. The US and other Western countries have stated that all political prisoners in Burma must be released prior to elections.

Burma observers are however readying for an intensification of harassment against opposition activists, journalists and politicians as the junta looks to silence pro-democracy in the run-up to elections.


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