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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Myanmar election laws do not meet international standards: UN SG
Steve Czajkowski at 10:06 AM ET

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said [press release] Wednesday that recently announced election laws [JURIST report] in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] do not meet international standards for an inclusive political process, in particular because they do not allow pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to participate. Ban's statement was issued the same day the ruling military junta introduced [JURIST report] the Political Parties Registration Law, which prevents political prisoners from participating in the election and also makes it illegal for members of religious orders, insurgent groups, and foreigners to join political parties. Ban called on the Myanmar leaders to ensure that country's first election in 20 years is "fair, transparent and credible" and allows all of Myanmar's citizen's to be involved. The election law also drew criticism from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], which said [press release] "[the new law] continues the sham political process that is aimed at creating the appearance of civilian rule with a military spine." Additionally, on Thursday the military junta nominated [DPA report] a 17-member commission to supervise the elections and invalidated the 1990 election, which brought Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website] to power.

On Monday, the military junta enacted [Al Jazeera report] five laws to govern the upcoming election and has been publicly announcing them one at a time in state-run newspapers. One of the most notable ramifications of the new laws is that Suu Kyi will be prevented from participating in the election unless she is released from prison. The new law would also prevent Suu Kyi from remaining as the head of the NLD if the party wishes to participate in the election. The NLD has not committed [AFP report] to taking part in the polls, claiming that the 2008 constitution is unfair because it bans Suu Kyi from taking part in the polls and reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for the military. Suu Kyi, speaking through her lawyer, on Thursday called on [AFP report] the Myanmar people to give a unified response to what she called the unjust election law.

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