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Myanmar’s opposition undecided on contesting polls

December 30, 2014

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Tuesday it is too early for her party to decide whether it will participate in 2015 elections because it depends on whether the constitution and election laws are amended.

She noted that her National League for Democracy party boycotted 2010 polls because it believed the legal conditions were unacceptable. It participated in 2012 by-elections after some rules were amended, and won 43 of the 44 seats it contested.

The 2010 election was widely seen as rigged in favor of the military and its allies but gave Myanmar an elected, nominally civilian, government for the first time since a 1962 coup overthrew parliamentary democracy.

“We all have to work together to make sure that the elections are inclusive, that they are transparent, that they are free and fair and that they are held on time as scheduled,” Suu Kyi told a year-end news conference. “We’ve got to make sure that what we want will come about.”

The army-dictated 2008 constitution gives the military 25 percent of parliament’s seats and other special political powers. It also bars Suu Kyi from becoming president or vice president because her sons are foreign citizens — her late husband was British. The constitution also requires the approval of 75 percent of parliament to amend major portions of the charter, so any changes opposed by the army would face a hurdle.

The National League for Democracy handily won a 1990 general election, but saw the results nullified by the military, which launched a long wave of repression against opposition and pro-democracy activists.

There has been widespread speculation that the upcoming election will be delayed because the country’s current leaders are uncertain of victory and need more time to prepare. Other causes for concern are sectarian violence and the failure to reach a conclusive peace agreement with armed ethnic minority groups that have been fighting for more autonomy for decades.