Myanmar junta unveils election laws sans date

YANGON: Myanmar’s military government announced today the enactment of long-awaited laws for forthcoming elections this year but gave no immediate date for the polls, state media said.

Junta chief Than Shwe has promised the elections as part of his so-called “roadmap to democracy” but critics say the vote will be a sham if pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest.

“The laws were enacted by the State Peace and Development Council and the details of the laws will be published in tomorrow’s newspaper and also will be published as a book,” state television and radio said.

It was unclear if a date for the election would be included in the details to be released later.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has not

yet decided whether it

will take part in the elections and has said it will wait until it sees the laws. It was not immediately available for comment.

The five laws enacted were the Union of Myanmar election commission law, the political parties registration law, the people’s parliament election commission law, the national parliament commission election law, and the state or division parliament commission law.

The NLD won Myanmar’s last national polls by a landslide in 1990 but the junta refused to let it take office. Suu Kyi has been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years since then.

The elections are due this year under a controversial constitution voted through in 2008, just days after Cyclone Nargis devastated the south of the country, killing around 138,000 people.

The constitution effectively bars Suu Kyi from standing, even if she were to be released from her house arrest, which was extended by 18 months in August due to an incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside home.

The constitution also reserves around a quarter

of all parliamentary seats for the military.