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Suu Kyi barred from polls

world Updated: Mar 11, 2010 01:07 IST

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces expulsion from her own party and is barred from standing in polls this year under the military junta’s new election laws, a spokesman said.

In a move that sparked outrage from rights activists, the regime said in the new political parties registration act published on Wednesday that anyone serving a prison term cannot be a party member for the polls.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) — which won the country’s last elections in 1990 but was stopped from taking power by the military -- would in turn be abolished if it failed to obey the rules.

The Nobel Peace laureate was sentenced to three years in jail in August over an incident in which a US man swam to her lakeside home. Suu Kyi’s sentence was commuted by junta supremo Than Shwe to 18 months under house arrest.

“I have noticed that we have to expel Daw Suu. Their attitude is clear in this law,” NLD spokesman Nyan Win told AFP, using a respectful form of address to refer to Suu Kyi.

“I was extremely surprised when I saw this, I did not think it would be so bad.”

Critics have dismissed the polls, which Than Shwe has promised to hold at a still unspecified date this year, as a sham aimed at legitimising and entrenching the military’s nearly five-decade grip on power.

Suu Kyi was already barred from standing as a candidate under a new constitution approved in a 2008 referendum, due to a clause stipulating that those married to foreign nationals are not eligible.

Her husband, British academic Michael Aris, died in 1999.

The 64-year-old has been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years since the previous elections. The new law, details of which were printed in state-run newspapers, also gives the NLD just 60 days from Monday when the law was enacted to register as a party if it wants to take part in the elections or face dissolution.