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Monday, March 29, 2010

Myanmar opposition party boycotting elections over 'unjust' law
Megan McKee at 10:09 AM ET

[JURIST] Myanmar's largest opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website], announced Monday that it will not participate in the nation's first elections in 20 years because of "unjust" election laws [JURIST report]. A spokesperson for the NLD explained that the party had unanimously decided not to register [AP report] for the elections because they viewed the nation's electoral laws as "undemocratic." Most notably, the Political Parties Registration Law bars [JURIST report] the NLD's leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from participating in the election and prevents the NLD from participating if Suu Kyi remains the leader of the party. The NLD's refusal to take part in the elections could decrease the legitimacy of the elections in light of pressure on the current government to ensure that all groups are involved in the electoral process.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council [official website] adopted a resolution [A/HRC/13/L.15 materials] condemning Myanmar for rights violations and urging [JURIST report] the ruling junta to conduct fair and free elections. Also last week, the Myanmar Supreme Court rejected [JURIST report] a lawsuit brought by the NLD to repeal the election laws preventing Suu Kyi from participating. Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said that the election laws do not meet international standards [JURIST report] for an inclusive political process, and the laws have also drawn criticism from Human Rights Watch [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."

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