Burma’s main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party has voted not to participate in elections this year.
The decision was announced minutes ago following a lengthy meeting of the party’s Central Committee at the NLD headquarters in Rangoon. More than 150 members were present, and plain clothes intelligence agents and riot trucks were reportedly loitering outside the office.
Party spokesperson Nyan Win told DVB that the meeting ended with two conclusions, with no objection made to the decision.
“Firstly, on the grounds that the [government’s] election laws were unfair, the National League for Democracy has concluded not to register,” he said. “Secondly, we urge the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”
The decision not to register means that the party, which formed in September 1988 following the infamous ‘8888 uprising’, will be legally dissolved within 60 days.
Asked what the NLD would do if the government abolishes the party, Nyan Win said that “we are not focusing on the party’s existence but on the survival of NLD politics.”
The decision is in line with a statement made by party leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who said last week that she would “not even consider” the elections after laws were released that ban her from participating and require her expulsion from the party if it is to run.
But some senior party members had previously expressed their desire to see the NLD compete, although in the run up to the decision it appeared that the tide was going against them.
If the NLD was to run for office, it would be forced to both expel Suu Kyi and accept the controversial 2008 constitution. Its chances of gaining any leverage in government were anyway slim, with the constitution awarding 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military even prior to voting.