The National League for Democracy (NLD) has announced that they will not register for Burma’s elections to be held in 2010.

The declaration follows a series of recent changes to political party registration laws by the country’s military junta, in which they warned the NLD to expel its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, or lose their eligibility to register, changes she has labelled “unjust and unfair.”

In a statement released on March 29, NLD Vice-President U Tin Oo said that the changes meant that the military junta could “do whatever they like”. The NLD, he said, would be “ready for all kinds of persecution and intimidation.”

The party had no intention of disbanding even though it was not registered with the newly formed Electoral Commission, U Tin Oo said.

The absence of the NLD, Burma’s largest opposition party, is a serious blow to the country’s chances of having their upcoming poll being recognised as free and fair.

Speaking from London, Burma Campaign U.K’s International Coordinator and author of Little Daughter, Zoya Phan, said that without the NLD, the generals leading Burma could no longer pretend that they were serious about genuine political reform. She described the junta’s fear as the equivalent of “scoring an own goal.”

“They feared the NLD so much they created election laws that would make it impossible for them to take part, but actually they needed the NLD to give the elections credibility,” Ms. Phan said.

Ms. Phan said that the United Nations had to force the Burmese regime to take part in serious political dialogue “for the first time.” The country’s leader, Senior-General Than Shwe, has so far refused all requests to meet with members of delegations from the United States and the United Nations regarding the elections or the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate’s stance has been fully endorsed by The Ten Alliances movement, a coalition of political parties and pro-democracy organizations, of which the NLD is a member.