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Members of Burma's Main Opposition Group to Form New Party

Leading members of Burma's main opposition party, who disagree with its boycott of an upcoming military-run election, say they are forming a breakaway faction to compete in the polls.

NLD member Than Nyien told VOA's Burmese service Thursday that he and other members have decided to form a new political party called the National Democratic Force. He says the NDF will register with Burma's military rulers to take part in the election to be held later this year.

Than Nyien says the political platform of the NDF will not be much different than that of the NLD, which is boycotting the election because it refuses to accept military terms in order to remain a legal party.

Under new election laws passed by Burma's military, the NLD had to expel political prisoners from its ranks and register for the election by Thursday or face dissolution.

There was no immediate comment from the NLD on the breakaway faction's decision to form a new party.

The NLD decided not to register for the election because doing so would have required it to expel its detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi. NLD members say their headquarters in Rangoon will continue to engage in humanitarian work but will no longer be involved in politics.

Some NLD members rolled up portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi at the headquarters Thursday before closing the office for the day.

Earlier, NLD spokesman Nyan Win told reporters in Rangoon that Burma's Supreme Court refused to hear an NLD petition seeking to overturn the military's new election laws.

Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted last August of violating the terms of her house arrest for sheltering an American who swam to her lakeside Rangoon home uninvited. The NLD leader and Nobel Peace laureate has spent 14 of the last 20 years under some form of detention.

Her party won the last democratically held election in 1990, but the military refused to accept the results.