Suu Kyi's party discuss whether to contest polls

YANGON - Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met senior party members in Naypyidaw Saturday to decide if the party will contest polls set for November after failing to change the constitution barring her from the presidency.

A decision on whether the National League for Democracy (NLD) will participate in its first general election in a quarter of a century is expected to be announced after the meeting at a press conference by Suu Kyi at 5 pm (1030 GMT).

The NLD, which declined to confirm whether it will compete in the polls after Myanmar on Wednesday set November 8 as election day, is tipped to make huge gains at the ballot box if the vote is free and fair.

"To make a decision on whether we will take part in the coming election will be the major theme for today's meeting," Win Htein, a senior party member and spokesman, told AFP, adding that voter lists would also be on the agenda.

The NLD has urged people to check official voter lists in recent days, raising concerns that those displayed across the country are riddled with inaccuracies.

Poll officials insist there is time to iron out the flaws while President Thein Sein Thursday reaffirmed his vow to hold a "free and fair" election.

Last month the NLD was defeated in a crucial parliamentary vote aimed at ending the military's effective veto on constitutional change - the first hurdle in their campaign to amend a clause barring those with a foreign spouse or children from becoming president. Suu Kyi's sons are British.

But despite the loss the Nobel laureate vowed not to "back down" from the election and the party is expected to announce it will run on Saturday.

The NLD won nationwide polls in 1990 by a landslide, while Suu Kyi was under house arrest. But it was prevented from taking power by the military, who had plunged the country into decades of isolation.

The democracy icon spent some 15 years under house arrest and was also locked up during the last general election in 2010, which was boycotted by the NLD and marred by accusations of cheating.

But Suu Kyi and 44 of her party members now sit in parliament after a 2012 by-election held as part of sweeping reforms under a quasi-civilian government following the end of outright military rule in 2011.