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Updated: September 14, 2010 19:36 IST

Myanmar’s main opposition party dissolved, state media reports

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Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo: AP.
Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo: AP.

Myanmar’s main opposition party, led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, has been dissolved after failing to register to contest the November polls, state television reported on Tuesday.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the 1990 election by a landslide, was “automatically abolished” for failing to register within the time limit to contest this year’s polls, state—run TV reported.

Another four parties were also dissolved for failing to field enough candidates in the upcoming polls.

As a result, only 37 political parties from a total of 42 are to contest the polls, The parties will be permitted to campaign on radio and TV starting on October 31, the broadcast said.

Myanmar’s junta is to stage the country’s first general election in 20 years on November 7 for lower, upper and regional parliaments.

Opposition figures have already labelled the polls unfair because election regulations have effectively excluded the participation of the NLD and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

A party registration rule stipulated that contesting parties must exclude members currently serving prison terms, a regulation that appeared to be tailor made to force the NLD to drop Suu Kyi, who is serving an 18—month house detention term due to expire on November 13.

Instead of dropping their leader, a democracy icon in Myanmar, also called Burma, and abroad, the NLD chose not to contest the election, leading to its demise as a legal political entity.

“Even so, the NLD continues to be a political force,” said Aung Din, who heads the US Campaign for Burma. “After the election we will urge foreign governments to pressure the elected government to open a dialogue with Ms. Suu Kyi and the NLD for national reconciliation in exchange for recognizing the election and dropping sanctions,” he said.

The election is expected to be won by the pro—junta Union for Social Development Party, the political arm of the military. It is the only party that has sufficient funds to field candidates for the more than 1,000 contested seats.

A 500—dollar registration fee per candidate has limited the number of opposition contestants in Myanmar where average per capita income is about 600 dollars.

The National Democracy Force, a splinter group from the NLD, has only been able to field about 160 candidates.

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