Suu Kyi charged with electoral fraud

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Myanmar's state election commission says it will prosecute the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and 15 other senior political figures for alleged fraud in last November's general election.

The announcement was published on Tuesday in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper and other official media.

Allegations of widespread electoral fraud were the main reason cited by the military for its February 1 seizure of power that toppled Suu Kyi's government.

Her National League for Democracy party was about to begin a second five-year term in office after its landslide victory in the polls.

The army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party suffered unexpectedly heavy losses.

Independent observers, such as the Asian Network for Free Elections, found no evidence of substantive irregularities in the polls, though they criticised some aspects.

The action by the Union Election Commission could potentially result in Suu Kyi's party being dissolved and unable to participate in a new election the military has promised will take place within two years of its takeover.

The commission's notice, dated Monday, did not specify which laws would be used to prosecute the accused.

In May, the military-appointed new head of the electoral commission said his agency would consider dissolving Suu Kyi's former governing party for alleged involvement in electoral fraud and have its leaders charged with treason.

Commission Chairman Thein Soe said an investigation had determined the party had worked illegally with the government to give itself an advantage at the polls.

After taking power, the military dismissed the members of the election commission that certified last year's poll and appointed new ones.

The new commission declared last year's election results invalid.

The latest notice from the commission said Suu Kyi, former resident Win Myint, other leading figures in her party and the commission's former chairman were "involved in electoral processes, election fraud and lawless actions" related to the polls.

It accused 16 people of carrying out illegal actions to favour Suu Kyi's party.

Suu Kyi is already on trial or charged in about a dozen criminal cases in which a conviction would almost certainly bar her from running for office again.

Several of her top political allies also have been tried or are facing charges.

Suu Kyi's supporters as well as independent rights organizations contend that the cases are spurious and meant to discredit Suu Kyi and her party while legitimising military rule.

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