"We will survive as long as we have public support"

Nyan Win,
NLD lawyer and party spokesman

It announced last month that it would be boycotting the elections expected to take place later this year.

The election will be Myanmar's first in two decades, and is the culmination of what the ruling military has termed its "roadmap to democracy".

But the vote has been dismissed as a sham by critics who say the legislation governing the vote is designed only to entrench the power of the military which has ruled since 1962.

Landslide

The previous election in 1990 was won by a landslide by the NLD, but the military government refused to recognise the outcome.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for most of the part 20 years [EPA]

The new election laws include clauses voiding the result of the 1990 vote.

In their legal appeal, NLD lawyers had asked Myanmar's Supreme Court to annul legislation that would have forced the party to expel Aung San Suu Kyi in order to participate in this year's vote.

But that appeal was rejected on Wednesday.

"[The court] returned our applications saying that the laws were already enacted," NLD lawyer and party spokesman Nyan Win told reporters.

"We have no plan yet to continue further."

Nyan Win said that while the NLD "may cease to exist under the law" it would continue to carry out social activities while party members will individually engage in political activities.

"We will survive as long as we have public support," he said.

Parliament

The NLD's legal case also called for the formation of a parliament made up of lawmakers who won in 1990 elections.

Critics have said the election will only entrench the military's power [Reuters]

In February, Myanmar's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Aung San Suu Kyi against her extended house arrest.

She has been held in detention for 14 of the past 20 years.

Following Wednesday's court's ruling, NLD officials held a final gathering at its headquarters in Yangon, clearing desks and locking away party files and other property.

However, officials said Aung San Suu Kyi had instructed her party not to take down the NLD signboard or party flag featuring the "fighting peacock" after the deadline.

Speaking through a party spokesman, she told NLD members she would "never turn her back to the people or her struggle for democracy."