Thursday, May 6, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi's Party to Be Abolished


Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's party, for two decades the symbol of resistance against the ruling junta, is to be dissolved at midnight Thursday under laws laid down ahead of elections. The National League for Democracy (NLD) refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a political party -- a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader -- and boycotted the vote scheduled for later this year. At the party's ramshackle headquarters in Myanmar's former capital Yangon, the "fighting peacock" flag was still flying but party workers were packing up files and mulling new plans to focus on social and development work.

Along with Suu Kyi's lakeside home, where she has been detained for 14 of the last 20 years, the shabby wooden headquarters has been the focus of efforts to end nearly half a century of military rule. The NLD was founded in 1988 after a popular uprising against the military junta that left thousands dead. Two years later the party won elections in a landslide but the results were never recognised by the regime.

The junta's new election laws, which forced the NLD into the difficult boycott decision and also officially nullified the 1990 poll results, have been roundly condemned by the international community. Suu Kyi filed a lawsuit last week to try to overturn the laws but the Supreme Court turned down the bid, paving the way for her party to be automatically abolished at midnight.

The NLD leadership, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, have been criticised for lacking a strategic vision, and some question whether their absolutist stance against the regime is the best way forward.

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