Friday, November 18, 2011

NLD will contest in Burmese by-election

Friday, 18 November 2011 13:17 Myo Thein

Rangoon (Mizzima) - Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), voted on Friday to rejoin the political fray and field candidates for seats in Parliament.

Observers say the move almost guarantees democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will occupy a Parliament seat, or perhaps even a higher position in the government, which has orchestrated a number of steps to bring the Nobel Peace laureate into the political process.

Central executive committee members from 13 states and regions supported the influential party’s reemergence into Burma’s rapidly changing political scene, which has seen a series of calculated steps designed to move the military-dominated leadership toward a more democratic system.

In an oral vote, all of the 106 central committee members who attended the meeting voted unanimously in support of reactivating the NLD as a legal political party.

Top NLD officials say the country is moving incrementally to a more democratic system. In the upcoming by-election, 48 constituencies at the Union and regional levels will be contested. Observers say the election will probably be held in December.

The newly formed government amended electoral laws in October designed to open up the political system. A key provision that banned former prisoners from political party membership was removed, allowing many NLD members who have been imprisoned for their political views to take part in politics.

Man Jonny, a National League for Democracy central committee member, in front of party headquarters in Rangoon on Friday, November 18, 2011. In an historic meeting, the party voted to register and contest in the upcoming by-election, repositioning itself as an active player in Burma's rapidly changing political scene. Photo: Mizzima

Members from various regions represented a cross-section of Burma including areas of Kachin, Karen, Chin, Tanintharyi, Pegu, Magway, Mon, Mandalay, Arakan, Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Shan. There are no NLD branches in Karenni.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest, is the country’s foremost politician and in a fair democratic system, she could wield enormous influence.

The NLD won a landslide in the 1990 election, which the country’s military never recognized, ruling the country for the past twenty years by military force.

The November 2010 election started what is supposed to be a transition to a “civilian” government. However, the current Parliament and government administration are controlled by former generals.

One major demand of Suu Kyi and the NLD that has not been met is the release of all political prisoners. It is believed that the government will announce another round of amnesty for political prisoners soon.

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