Loud cheering broke out at a meeting of the leaders of Burma's main opposition party after they voted unanimously to boycott an upcoming election that has been widely condemned as unfair and undemocratic.
The decision will further undermine the credibility of the poll. All 113 delegates at yesterday's gathering of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) agreed not to register the party with the election commission, effectively preventing it from participation in the polls that are expected to be held in October.
Speaking last night from Rangoon, senior NLD leader U Win Tin said: “By not registering under the election laws, it amounts to a boycott. There were one or two people who raised objections, but we were able to return a unanimous decision.”
The former political prisoner accepted that by deciding not to participate in the poll, the NLD risked being “ignored” by the junta. But he added: “The world is looking for this process to be inclusive and for everybody to be involved. It is possible the world will ignore the junta too.”
Ms Suu Kyi's party comfortably won the last fair election held in Burma in 1990 but the military, which has ruled the country since 1962, refused to recognise the results and began a major crackdown on dissidents and political opponents. Hundreds of people were jailed.
The NLD leader has spent 14 of the past 20 years either in jail or under house arrest.