Suu Kyi can vote in Myanmar charter poll, her party says
YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has the right to vote in a referendum next month on a military-backed constitution, her political party said Tuesday.
“According to the law, (Aung San Suu Kyi) has the right to vote at the referendum as her detention was not a court order or sentence,” said Nyan Win, spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD).
“It was just an administrative function,” he told AFP.
Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the past 18 years locked away by the ruling military junta in her sprawling lakeside home in Yangon.
Her latest period of detention began in 2003 after a deadly attack on her convoy by supporters of the junta, and has been periodically extended since, with little sign that the generals plan to free her.
The regime has called a referendum on May 10 on the proposed new charter, which they claim will — if approved — lead to general elections in 2010.
Under the new constitution, which was drafted by a committee hand-picked by the junta, Aung San Suu Kyi would be barred from running for office because she was married to a foreigner, Michael Aris, a British citizen who died in 1999.
People convicted of a crime by a court are not allowed to vote in the referendum, but detainees who have not faced trial can cast a ballot.
There are currently about 1,850 political prisoners in Myanmar, at least 700 of whom were arrested after anti-junta demonstrations last September, which the military crushed, killing at least 31 people, the UN says.
Next month’s referendum will be the first balloting in Myanmar since 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi led the NLD to a landslide victory, which was never recognised by the junta.
The NLD and other activists are calling for a “No” vote on the charter, which analysts say simply enshrines the military’s role.