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New Political Parties Register for Burma's Elections

Burma's government says 16 new political parties have registered for elections planned for later this year.

State-controlled media reported Friday that Burma's official Election Commission had approved the new parties prior to the end of a 60-day registration period that ends on May 6.

Three already existing parties have also registered to run in Burma's first general polls in two decades.

The commission also warned that the old political parties that fail to register prior to the deadline will be forced to disband.

The government has not yet announced the election date.

Friday, leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged fellow member Burma to hold a fair election and include all political parties.

Burma's main opposition, the National League of Democracy (NLD) recently decided to boycott the elections because Burma's new election law bans participation of all politicians who have been detained. The NLD's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years. Her latest house arrest expires in November.

The NLD won the last general election held in Burma in 1990, but the military never relinquished power.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.