YANGON, Myanmar, March 30 (UPI) -- The United States, blaming Myanmar's military rulers, said it respects the decision of Aung San Suu Kyi's party to boycott the elections to be held this year.
Reacting to the decision by the National League for Democracy to stay out of the elections because of election restrictions from the ruling junta, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley termed the situation in Myanmar disappointing, the Voice of America reported.
Crowley said the United States "understands and respects the decision" by Suu Kyi's NLD because the junta has refused to open up the political process to people like Suu Kyi and ethnic groups.
The junta's election rules are described by critics as a ploy to continue in power.
One rule bars people like Suu Kyi, who are seen as having a criminal record because she has been under house arrest for most of the past 20 years for her pro-democracy activities.
Registered parties also must swear allegiance to the 2008 constitution, which would set aside 25 percent of parliament seats to the military.
The NLD announced its unanimous boycott decision Monday after a meeting of its members.
The new elections are to be held sometime this year but the military government has not announced the dates.
The New York Times reported that under the elections laws the NLD's latest decision could mean its dissolution.