Suu Kyi fights law with law

Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that under Burmese law it will be illegal for her to vote in upcoming elections, despite the ruling junta granting her participation rights.

The 65-year-old this week rejected the opportunity to vote, following an announcement by an official in late September that Suu Kyi and her two live-in maids “will get the right to vote. But they will not get permission to go outside on election day.”

Her dissolved National League for Democracy (NLD) party has boycotted Burma’s first elections in 20 years, due on 7 November, citing laws that ban Suu Kyi from running for office and which had appeared to prohibit any participation at all.

Nyan Win, lawyer for Suu Kyi, told DVB yesterday that she had asked him to explain to police “that there is no reason for her to vote as she understood that the election law states that those who are serving prison terms are prohibited from voting”.

A letter destined for the police’s Special Branch has been drafted and is waiting to be signed by Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 of the past 20 years under house arrest. The NLD won the 1990 elections in a landslide victory, but the military generals refused to transfer power.

The NLD has meanwhile taken to the streets to advocate a boycott of the polls. A group of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) yesterday met with party members in Mandalay division, before heading to Kachin state later this week.

“We told our members that people should not vote if they are scared because if they vote, they will continue to be scared,” said CEC member Ohn Kyaing. “So they should boycott the election by not voting if they want to stop being scared. Our members understood what we said and they liked it.”

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