Suu Kyi wants party to boycott Burma election

Detained opposition leader says junta's poll restrictions are unjust

Burma's detained opposition leader has indicated that she believes her party should boycott a controversial poll planned for later this year – further undermining the credibility of what many believe is a "sham" election.

Aung San Suu Kyi told her lawyer she believed the National League for Democracy (NLD) should not register because a series of restrictions – including the demand that she be ousted from her party – were unjust. "Personally, I would not even think of registering [the party] under these unjust laws," Ms Suu Kyi said, according to her lawyer, Nyan Win, who met her yesterday at the crumbling house in Rangoon where she is under house arrest. "I am not instructing the party or the people. They are free to make their decisions democratically."

The military junta that controls Burma, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), claims that an election planned for later this year will help to move the country towards democracy. Many independent observers believe the election will simply further cement the military within the establishment of the country.

Earlier this month, the junta issued guidelines for the election that made clear that the 64-year-old Nobel laureate would not be permitted to contest the vote because she is under house arrest. The guidelines appeared to suggest that the NLD would have to expel her if it wanted to take part. The party has called a meeting of its senior members for next Monday when it will announce its decision. The statement by Ms Suu Kyi will be hugely influential.

Derek Tonkin, a former British ambassador in South-east Asia and head of the Myanmar Network, said that if the NLD voted not to participate, those members wishing to take part would have to leave and form a different party. "[If the NLD does not participate] it will make it much harder for the junta to sell the election to the West," he added. The last democratic election in Burma was held in 1990 and the NLD won by a landslide. The junta refused to accept the result and embarked on a fresh round of political repression, jailing hundreds of its opponents.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the last 20 years in jail or under house arrest, the term of which was extended last year after she was convicted of breaching the conditions of her detention when an uninvited American visitor swam across a nearby lake to her home. Most independent observers believe the charges against her were brought simply to keep her out of the way until the conclusion of the election, which many expect to be held in October.

The statement by the NLD leader, who had not previously indicated whether she believed her party should participate, came as her lawyers sought to overturn regulations banning her from taking part. Her legal team tried to file a petition with the country's Supreme Court to challenge the election regulations announced earlier this month. The court refused to accept the petition, saying it was not qualified to hear the case.

David Mathieson, a Burma expert at Human Rights Watch, told Agence France-Presse: "The NLD has got to decide whether to adapt to the deeply unfair situation and try to contest in some way or take the moral high ground and continue to be excluded."

The UN's special envoy, Tomas Ojea Quintana, recently called for an inquiry into whether the regime was guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, something the authorities angrily rejected. He also renewed calls for the junta to release more than 2,100 political prisoners, including Ms Suu Kyi, ahead of the polls.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions