Myanmar democracy leader Suu Kyi`s party dissolved

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi`s party, has been dissolved ahead of elections.

Updated: May 07, 2010, 17:31 PM IST

Yangon: Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi`s party, which waged a two-decade campaign against the ruling junta, has been dissolved ahead of elections scheduled for this year, officials said Friday.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register -- a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader -- and boycotted the vote which will be the first in Myanmar in 20 years.

"The NLD is not a legal registered party any more according to the law. That is for sure now," a government official said to a news agency on condition of anonymity.

Under widely criticised election laws handed down by the ruling junta, the party was officially abolished at midnight Thursday.

Nyan Win, the NLD`s longtime spokesman, said that former members would continue operating from their headquarters in Myanmar`s main city Yangon.

"The authorities have not informed us of anything yet but it will be according to the law," he said of the dissolution of the party.

"We will not exist as a legal registered party but our headquarters will be open as usual."

Nyan Win has previously said that some members would now focus their efforts on social and development work. Others have indicated that they could form a new pro-democracy party.

Witnesses said the doors of the NLD headquarters had opened as usual on Friday, and that the party`s signboards and its famed "fighting peacock" flag were still in view.

Along with Suu Kyi`s lakeside home, where she has been detained for 14 of the last 20 years, the shabby wooden building 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.

Prominent rights activist Win Tin, a former political prisoner and senior NLD member, told French radio service RFI he had no regrets.

"We would have lost all dignity, all credibility by placing ourselves in the service of the junta," he said, adding that the decision did not mean that the struggle for democracy in Myanmar was over.

"It really doesn`t matter to us that they dissolve us. We will not go away. We will not abandon our ideology, our political struggle, our leadership. We will remain as a party," the 80-year-old activist said.

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.

Analysts say that there has been friction between the older, hardline members and younger more moderate figures who opposed the boycott decision.

Khin Maung Swe, another senior party member, has downplayed speculation that he will form a new political party out of the ashes of the NLD. The process for registration of new parties will officially begin from Friday.

"I love this party. But I have to respect the majority`s decision. Today will be the last day for us. It`s a very sorrowful time as we have to conclude our party this way," he said on Thursday.

Bureau Report