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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Myanmar junta announces election laws
Haley Wojdowski at 11:49 AM ET

[JURIST] Myanmar's military junta on Tuesday unveiled [NLM report] the first of five laws that will set the stage for the country's first election in 20 years. The Union Election Commission Law, the first of the five laws enacted [Al Jazeera report] Monday to be published in state-run newspapers, states that the military government will appoint the five-member commission that will supervise and have the final say on all electoral matters. The remaining four laws [AP report] cover the polls for the Pyithu Hluttaw, or House of Representatives; the polls for the Amyotha Hluttaw, or House of Nationalities, the other house of parliament; the polls for Region and State parliaments; and the Political Parties Registration Law. The National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website], the opposition party of Aung San Suu Kyi [JURIST news archive], 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.

Last month, UN High Representative for Human Rights Tomas Ojea Quintana [official profile] expressed great disappointment [JURIST report] during his visit to Myanmar, stating that without certain action the elections "will not be credible." Quintana met with 15 prisoners during visits to three prisons, but his requests to meet with imprisoned opposition leader Suu Kyi and junta leader Senior General Than Shwe [BBC profile] were denied. The ruling military junta released [JURIST report] 82-year old democracy activist U Tin Oo, a decorated general and Vice-Chairman of the NLD, from six years of house arrest just days before Quintana's arrival. Thant Zin Oo, the general's son, said the release was a calculated political move [Irrawaddy report] designed to appease the UN. The government of Myanmar announced last year that it was processing grants of immunity [JURIST report] to allow prisoners to participate in the upcoming elections. Home Minister Major General Maung Oo [official website] announced in January that Suu Kyi will be released from house arrest [JURIST report] in November when her sentence is scheduled to expire. The announcement has been seen as an indication [AP report] that she will not be allowed to participate in the elections.

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