Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been banned from taking part in elections this year and would need to be expelled from her party if it is to participate in polling, recently announced laws state.
Suu Kyi’s 14-year period under house arrest, coupled with her marriage to a foreigner, Michael Aris, means that she is not permitted to run for office, according to the second batch of election laws regarding party registration announced today.
National League for Democracy (NLD) party spokesperson, Nyan Win, told AFP that the government’s “attitude is clear in this law”.
“I have noticed that we have to expel Daw Suu. I was extremely surprised when I saw this, I did not think it would be so bad,” he said.
The NLD has 60 days in which to register for the elections, which are rumoured to be in October this year although no date has been officially announced. Monks and civil service workers are also barred from participating.
“The NLD also needs to reply clearly but I cannot say how we will respond,” Nyan Win added. “What I can say now is the law is meant to safeguard the constitution. It will be a very big problem for us as they asked us to obey a constitution that we cannot accept.”
Controversy has surrounding the new constitution, which was ratified in the days following cyclone Nargis in May 2008 by an alleged 92 percent of the population. Several murky clauses appear to permit the intimidation of opposition members by the government.
Yesterday the first five elections laws were unveiled regarding Burma’s electoral commission. Criticism has been levelled at the government’s announcement that it would handpick the electoral body, which will oversee polling later this year.
Members of the commission will not belong to political parties and will have to be aged 50 or over and adjudged by the military junta to be “loyal” and “eminent”, the laws state.
Senior NLD member, Win Tin, told DVB that “the interesting part of the [commission] law” was the differentiation between two types of parliamentary representatives; one who is elected to parliament, and the other who is nominated by the junta chief.
Observers have eyed with heavy suspicion the junta’s pledge that elections will be free and fair, with many saying that the 2008 constitution and election laws will cement military rule in Burma. The remaining laws are due to be published this week.