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BURMA – Final condemnation for upcoming elections as NLD ceases to exist as political party

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statement was issued on 7 May by the London-based ARTICLE 19, an
international NGOs that advocates for freedom of expression worldwide.

statement was issued on 7 May by the London-based ARTICLE 19, an
international NGOs that advocates for freedom of expression worldwide.

7 May 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, winners
of the last elections in 1990, ceased to exist as a legal political
party in accordance with the military regime's implementation of new
election laws. Many NLD offices have closed down, signboards have been
removed and NLD members face impending arrest and abuse.

NLD decided not to contest upcoming elections in Burma, due to be held
sometime towards the end of 2010, because of the absence of a free and
fair environment. NLD leader Tin Oo told Irrawaddy: "We can't accept the
2008 constitution and operate under its unjust provisions. If we do, we
will just be an organization that listens to what authorities say and
agrees with them. Look at who has registered for the election. Most of
them are groups with friendly relationships with the regime."

military regime placed so many restrictions upon the NLD that it had
little option but to refuse to register.

NLD members have
cleared out the head office and have outlined their plans to do "social
work with a political angle." Some members have also formed a new party
called the 'National Democratic Force' and registered with the military
in order to maintain an overview of the process from the inside.

sources have already reported that NLD members are being arrested and
abused in Arakan and Mon states. 

Despite there still not being a
date for the elections, the military-backed 'Union Solidarity and
Development Party' has now begun campaigning across the country,
including on all state-owned channels.

Political parties are
important organs for representing aggregated preferences and opinions,
and their unobstructed participation is a fundamental part of free and
fair elections. A free media, and respect for freedom of expression and
access to information are also vital to free and fair elections. A free
and professional media informs the electorate, communicates policies,
frames election issues, holds parties accountable, and creates a diverse
and pluralistic election where all parties have equal opportunities to
express their views.

By in effect denying the NLD the chance to
take part in the election, the military regime is violating the
people's right to access a range of viewpoints and express themselves
freely through the electoral process. Furthermore, the absence of free
and fair elections, including specific protections for a free media, is
likely to further increase political and economic instability in Burma.

19 calls on the international community, particularly China, India, and
the ASEAN states, to recognise that the withdrawal of the NLD means
that the forthcoming elections are illegitimate.

19 urges governments to use all means at their disposal to ensure that
the electoral laws be amended so as to allow for political equality and
popular control.