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International Community Decries New Myanmar Election Laws

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International Community Decries New Myanmar Election Laws

3/11/2010 8:0 AM ET

Myanmar’s new election laws that prevent detained Opposition pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi any political affiliation in a party and ban from standing in election have provoked criticism from its neighbor the Philippines, as well as from the United States, the United Nations, and Britain.

P J Crowley, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Myanmar’s military government had made a mockery of the democratic process.

The laws banning any candidate with a court conviction deal a blow to the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with the military-run nation, he told reporters.

The Political Parties Registration Law was one of five long-awaited election laws Myanmar’s military junta passed recently, setting the stage for polls it pledged to hold later this year.

Crowley expressed doubt if the election will have credibility.

He made it clear that “If Burma (Myanmar) is to advance, it is going to have to change its political process and make it more inclusive,” a term Washington uses for the participation of Suu Kyi and her party — the National League for Democracy – in the elections.

It “doesn’t appear that Burma is prepared right now to open up its political process,” he added.

The Philippines Thursday urged Myanmar to repeal the controversial election laws.

“Unless they release Suu Kyi and allow her and her party to participate in elections, it’s a complete farce and therefore contrary to their road-map to democracy,” Philippines Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said.

The Philippines and Myanmar are both members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which has often been criticized for failing to exert more pressure on Yangon to implement democratic reforms.

The United Nations said the new set of laws appear not to “measure up to our expectations of what is needed for an inclusive political process.”

British Ambassador to Yangon Andrew Heyn said it’s “regrettable and very disappointing that the laws are not based on a dialogue with a range of political opinion.”

The new laws, published Wednesday, prohibit anyone with a criminal conviction from belonging to a political party, which subsequently disables the person from contesting an election.

Democracy icon Suu Kyi has been detained on various charges for most of the past 20 years after her political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections. NLD could not assume power, as the junta refused to recognize the election results.

The authorities have already made it clear that the Nobel laureate will not be allowed to take part in the polls as she was married to a British academic. The Myanmarese constitution bars anyone married to a foreign national from holding political office.

The new laws tighten the clutches on Suu Kyi, preventing her from leading her own party or playing any role in election campaigning.

Copyright © 2010, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent of RTTNews.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

March 15, 2010 at 9:33 am

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