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Updated: November 17, 2010 18:35 IST

Myanmar's junta warns against filing complaints on elections

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Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's release has given a moral boost to pro-democracy activists to intensify their struggle against the military junta.
Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's release has given a moral boost to pro-democracy activists to intensify their struggle against the military junta.

Myanmar’s military government has warned against filing complaints over the November 7 election — a move that could spell trouble for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has vowed to probe alleged voting irregularities.

The warning on Tuesday put Ms. Suu Kyi on a possible collision course with the ruling generals, just days after her release from more than seven years of house arrest. The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate must balance the expectations of the country’s pro-democracy movement with the reality that her freedom could be withdrawn any time by the hard-line regime.

Ms. Suu Kyi, meanwhile, went on a legal offensive on Tuesday, filing an affidavit with the country’s High Court to have her political party reinstated. The junta disbanded it earlier this year for failing to reregister after choosing not to take part in the election, complaining conditions set by the junta were unfair and undemocratic.

In a reminder of how delicately she has to tread, the official Union Election Commission warned on Tuesday that political parties making fraudulent complaints about the polls can face harsh legal punishment.

Full results from this month’s elections have yet to be released, but figures so far give the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party a solid majority in both houses of parliament. Critics complain the vote was rigged and designed to cement the power of the military, which has ruled Myanmar for five decades.

Anyone who files fraudulent charges of vote cheating can be jailed for three years, fined 300,000 kyats ($300), or both, the commission said.

Ms. Suu Kyi has already announced her intention to join party colleagues in an investigation of alleged electoral fraud. She told reporters, however, that while her party plans to issue a report, it has no plans to protest the results of the election as it didn’t take part.

The election was the first in Myanmar since a 1990 vote won by Ms. Suu Kyi’s party. Her National League for Democracy was barred from taking power and has faced near-constant repression.

A day after her release, Ms. Suu Kyi told thousands of wildly cheering supporters at her party headquarters Sunday she would continue to fight for human rights and the rule of law. In press interviews, she has spoken more of reconciliation than justice.

Ms. Suu Kyi has said she would like to talk to junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe, with whom she has not spoken since 2002.

“We have got to be able to talk to each other,” Ms. Suu Kyi told the Washington Post in an interview posted on the newspaper’s website on Tuesday. “I think, firstly, we have to start talking affably — real genuine talks, not just have some more tea or this or that.”

Nyan Win, who is Ms. Suu Kyi’s lawyer as well as a party spokesman, said Myanmar’s High Court will hold a hearing on Thursday to decide whether to accept the case from Ms. Suu Kyi arguing her party’s dissolution “is not in accordance with the law.”

He said the new Election Commission has no right to deregister parties that were registered under a different Election Commission in 1990.

As she walked into the courthouse on Tuesday, about 20 supporters ran toward her to see her while others waited outside to get a glimpse. Security was light with a dozen plainclothes officers watching the crowd.

Ms. Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years but has remained the dominant figure of the NLD. Although her party is now officially dissolved, it has continued operating. Without official recognition, it is in legal limbo, leaving it —and her — vulnerable to government crackdowns.

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