YANGON (AFP) — The victory by democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi‘s party in 1990 elections is “no longer legal,” Myanmar state media said Sunday, urging her supporters to prepare for new polls. The official New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a government mouthpiece, ran a commentary headlined: “Goodbye, 1990 election results!”
The paper said that the approval of a new military-backed constitution in a referendum in May had invalidated the previous national election, won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).
“The result of the 1990 election is no longer legal as it has been ditched by the entire people,” the paper said. “The NLD’d better join hands with the people and then stand for the 2010 election in line with the laws, instead of longing for the result of the 1990 election.” Such commentaries in state media are not official government statements, but reflect the thinking of the secretive junta that rules Myanmar with an iron fist. The constitutional referendum was held in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which left more than 138,000 dead or missing when it pounded ashore on May 2.
The junta claimed a 92.48 percent victory in the poll, a result derided by the NLD, which accused the regime of intimidation and vote rigging. The charter and the referendum have been condemned by western countries, which have imposed sanctions on Myanmar over the regime’s refusal to release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962, but a national pro-democracy uprising in 1988 gave birth to the NLD and saw Aung San Suu Kyi rise to prominence. The uprising was crushed by soldiers, with at least 3,000 believed killed.
Fearful of her ability to draw crowds with her soaring speeches, the military locked Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest 19 years ago. Despite her detention, the NLD won the 1990 elections in a landslide, but was never allowed to govern.
The regime has kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the years since.