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Myanmar junta announces new election law barring Suu Kyi from participating

[JURIST] Myanmar's military junta announced the implementation of another election law on Wednesday that establishes procedures for the country's first election in 20 years. The Political Parties Registration Law prevents [IANS report] political prisoners from participating in the election and also makes it illegal for members of religious orders, insurgent groups, and foreigners to join political parties. The most notable ramification of the new law is that it would prevent pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from participating in the election unless she is released from prison. The new law would also prevent Suu Kyi from remaining as the head of the National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website] if the party wishes to participate in the election. The NLD has not committed [AFP report] to taking part in the polls, claiming that the 2008 constitution is unfair because it bans Suu Kyi from taking part in the polls and reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for the military. An election date has not been set.

The Political Parties Registration Law is one of the five laws being enacted by the military junta in anticipation of the election. On Tuesday, the junta unveiled [JURIST report] the Union Election Commission Law, which states that the military government will appoint a five-member commission that will supervise and have the final say on all electoral matters. In February, UN High Representative for Human Rights Tomas Ojea Quintana [official profile] expressed great disappointment [JURIST report] during his visit to Myanmar, stating that without certain action the elections "will not be credible." Also in February, Myanmar's Supreme Court dismissed [JURIST report] the latest appeal by Suu Kyi against the extension of her house arrest. Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years, will be released in November [JURIST report] according to a government official, likely after the elections have taken place.

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