Suu Kyi asks supporters to boycott election

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party have boycotted the general election scheduled Nov 7 to protest regulations passed by Myanmar's junta that seemed designed to bar the Nobel laureate and her followers from the polls.The regulations ban anyone currently serving prison terms from membership of political parties seeking to contest the polls.

Suu Kyi is serving an 18-month house detention term which is expected to expire in late November, after the election.NLD spokesman Nyan Win met with Suu Kyi Tuesday to seek her views on the pending polls.   

Nyan Win told a press conference that when asked whom her supporters should vote for at the polls, Suu Kyi answered: "It is clear. Do not vote."Although the NLD has chosen not to contest the polls, a breakaway faction, called the National Democratic Force, has entered the race. Their leaders were hoping for backing from Suu Kyi, sources said.
About 40 parties have been allowed to contest the polls, which few expect to be free and fair as promised by the junta.

Parties complain that they have been given insufficient time to prepare and the registration fee, at $500 per candidate, is onerous in a country where the per capita income is less than $600 a year.

The pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party is expected to field 1,100 candidates in the polls for lower, upper and regional houses, compared with a total of 500 candidates from the pro-democracy parties.

The junta is not expected to invite independent observers to monitor the polls and Myanmar's press is notoriously uncritical of the regime. "People should file complaints to the police directly if they witness unfair and unlawful acts in the election," Suu Kyi said.
The polls were only announced on Aug 13.

Myanmar last held a general election in 1990, which was won by the NLD. But the military have blocked the party and Suu Kyi from power for the past two decades.

Few observers expect November's election to bring about genuine democracy.
A clause in the new constitution allows the military control over any future elected government by making the upper house of the National Parliament a partially junta-appointed body with veto power over legislation. 

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