Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi 'will not vote'

Image caption,
Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party was forced to disband under new election laws

Burma's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will refuse to vote in the general election on 7 November.

Her lawyer, Nyan Win, said that although her name was on a voters' list, she would not take part in a poll organised by the military.

Ms Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory in the last election in 1990 but the junta annulled the result, and kept her in near continuous detention.

The poll is seen by many as a sham that will just cement the military's power.

Some 25% of seats are guaranteed under the new constitution for the military, which means unelected military officers will sit in parliament.

The government has also founded its own political party - the Union Solidarity and Development Party - headed by the incumbent prime minister.

Legal moves

Ms Sui Kyi is currently under house arrest and was at first excluded from the electoral roll; about 2,000 other activists are also still detained.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) had already decided to disband to avoid having to expel Ms Suu Kyi and other detainees under strict electoral laws.

Our South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says her decision not to vote may further encourage other NLD supporters to follow her lead, come election day.

That in turn will infuriate the current military leadership, she says.

"The NLD will not compete so she (Suu Kyi) said she has no party to vote for even if she is allowed to vote. As the NLD is not participating in the election, she will not vote," said Nyan Win.

He said Ms Suu Kyi had also pointed out that any grant to her of the right to vote would contravene the junta's own laws which prohibit detainees from taking part in the polls.

Her advice to followers also not to vote has been criticised by the state-controlled press.

Ms Suu Kyi's house arrest is due to expire on 13 November and she expects to be released "according to the law", Nyan Win said.

"If she is not released it is like a violation," he said.

Many Western nations and the UN are critical of Burma's poor human rights record and refusal to hand over power to Ms Suu Kyi's party in 1990.

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