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Burmese officials said today that detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be entitled to vote in the upcoming election, despite earlier statements that she would be barred from taking part.
Raising confusion over the Nobel Peace laureate’s rights and the interpretation of the electoral laws, an official told AFP: “Aung San Suu Kyi and her two live-in maids will get the right to vote. But they will not get permission to go outside on election day.”
The official, who asked not to be named, suggested: “The authorities might ask them to vote in advance.”
On Monday officials had said Suu Kyi, who lives under house arrest in her lakeside mansion in Rangoon, did not appear on the voting list because serving prisoners have no right to vote under Burma’s 2008 constitution.
But another official on Friday confirmed her right to vote in the first election in two decades, due on 7 November, saying the relevant authorities “are likely to inform her soon”.
He said she had the right to vote on the basis that she is under house arrest rather than in prison.
Suu Kyi was, however, earlier this year barred from standing as a candidate in the elections on the grounds that she is a serving prisoner.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party decided to boycott the upcoming polls, saying the rules were unfair, and has subsequently been disbanded by the ruling generals.
The party won the last election in 1990 by a landslide but was never allowed to take office, and Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 20 years in detention.
Her incarceration was lengthened by 18 months in August last year for breaching the terms of her detention after an American man swam to her home.
The opposition leader’s current house arrest term is due to expire just days after the November election, which has been widely condemned by activists and the West as a charade aimed at legitimising military rule with a civilian face.