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Myanmar's Suu Kyi against party joining elections

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Aung San Suu Kyi is against registering her opposition party for Myanmar's upcoming elections because the ruling junta's restrictions on the vote are "unjust," her lawyer said Tuesday.

Suu Kyi was quoted as saying she would "not even think" of registering her National League for Democracy for the polls — which the government says will be held this year — but stressed she will let the party decide for itself.

The NLD won the last elections held in Myanmar in 1990 by a landslide but was barred by the military from taking power.

The credibility of the upcoming vote has already been called into question. It would suffer even more without the participation of the country's principal opposition party.

Suu Kyi is under house arrest and is effectively barred from running and voting in elections under recent laws enacted by the military-ruled government. One of the laws requires parties to register for the elections or cease to exist.

Her comments came ahead of a crucial meeting Monday in which NLD senior members will decide whether the party registers for the vote.

Although Suu Kyi has been under detention for 14 of the last 20 years, she is still general-secretary of the party and its most dominant figure. The Nobel Peace Prize winner had previously criticized the laws as "repressive" but had not yet given her opinion on what the party should do.

"Personally, I would not even think of registering (the party) under these unjust laws," Suu Kyi said, according to her lawyer Nyan Win who met with her Tuesday at her lakeside villa in Yangon.

She added: "I am not instructing the party or the people. They are free to make their decisions democratically," Nyan Win said.

Suu Kyi's house arrest was extended last year after she was convicted on charges of violating the terms of her detention when an American man swam uninvited to her lakeside property. She is serving an 18-month term of house arrest and many top members of her party and ethnic-based parties are in prison. Under the new laws they would be barred from the vote.

Her comments came hours after Myanmar's highest court refused to accept a lawsuit filed by the NLD seeking to revoke the five election laws, which were enacted earlier this month. The laws set out rules for the vote, but have been widely criticized as designed to keep Suu Kyi out of the race.

One law prohibits anyone convicted of a crime from being a member of a political party and instructs parties to expel convicted members or face de-registration.

Lawyer Kyi Win said the Supreme Court refused to accept the lawsuit, saying it did not have power to handle such a case.

The lawsuit was largely symbolic since Myanmar's courts invariably adhere to the junta's policies, especially on political matters. Nonetheless, Nyan Win said lawyers planned to file a formal complaint against the court's decision to try to have it overturned.

"We are taking the legal step against the electoral laws as they are unfair and the laws are a violation of human rights, personal rights and organizational rights," Nyan Win, who is also the NLD spokesman, said before the attempted lodging of the lawsuit against the ruling State Peace and Development Council, as the junta is formally known.

The junta says the new laws have formally invalidated the results of the 1990 election because the election law under which those polls were held was repealed by the new legislation.

The elections are part of the junta's long-announced "roadmap to democracy," which critics deride as a sham designed to cement the power of the military, which has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962.

The party has written a letter to junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe asking its leaders be allowed to have a meeting with Suu Kyi to discuss future policies.

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