» 03/08/2013, 00.00
Yangon: Aung San Suu Kyi opens first NLD congress on international women’s day
Historic event for the National League for Democracy. Topping agenda, the choice of party leaders - confirmation of the Nobel Peace Laureate widely expected- and drafting of a government agenda. The three-day meeting will also seek to "modernize" the ruling class. The "Lady" confirms need to “strengthen the party with new blood."
Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - International Women's
Day and under the gaze of icon Aung San Suu Kyi the first congress of the
National League for Democracy (NLD), the main Burmese opposition party opened
today in Yangon, Myanmar. Banned for at least two decades from life in the
country, the NLD won more than 40 seats in the April 2012 elections, which
sanctioned its leaders entry into Parliament. In recent months, the same Nobel Laureate
has repeatedly called for a "restructuring" capable of transforming the
movement from an opposition group into a ruling party.
The three days of meetings and discussions - which
ends March 10 - will be attended by some
900 delegates from all over Myanmar, although it is not clear if the summit
will remain off-limits to the press. During the congress the next leader of the
party will also be elected, even if the predictions converge on the
confirmation of Aung San Suu Kyi. In recent days, the "Lady" emphasized
the need to " strengthen the party with new blood and make the right decisions."
Moreover, the National League for Democracy, founded
in 1988 with a million members across the country, has an obvious problem of
age, most of the ruling class is between 80 and 90 years old and is affectionately
called "the NLD uncles. " However, the structure of the party has
always been "hierarchical" but now needs renewal, even and especially
in view of the general elections of 2015, where the party is seen as a
favourite, in the case of free and fair vote.
The delegates today are due to elect 120 members of
the Central Committee which, in turn, will be asked to choose the 15 members
who will animate the key choices for the future, as well as the leader. Burmese
analysts and policy experts confirm, however, that the party needs a "new
direction" to take and, more importantly, demonstrate its "ability to
Aung San Suu Ki co-founded the party in 1988, after the bloody
repression ordered by the military junta that choked demands for greater
democracy and freedom of students, monks, activists and ordinary citizens with
violence and terror. The NLD won a landslide election in 1990, the result of
which was never recognized by the dictatorship, the Nobel Peace Laureate -
along with many other members of the party - paid with long periods of
detention (under house arrest or in notorious prisons in the country). The
three-day conference is the first real opportunity to draw up an agenda for
government - that has never emerged not even since the beginning of the process
of reforms wanted by President Thein Sein and his semi-civilian government -
and become a true driving force of the nation. And to achieve this goal, adds a
leader of the old guard Han Tha Myint, "new faces and new ideas" are
Thein Sein's cabinet shuffle just a "smokescreen"
The Burmese president removes members of the old guard to promote more reform-minded people. However, Burma expert says the changes have not altered the underlying power structure. "Unsolved problems" persist as the old elites benefit from new opportunities.
Government removes restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi election campaign
The opposition denounces the denial of public spaces for the "Lady’s" rally. Democrats spokesman a "significant change" and cause for cautious optimism. Burmese President gives go ahead to ASEAN observers for the vote of April 1.
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Burmese military wants to retain veto power of constitutional reforms
With 25% of the seats allocated to them by law, the military control the country and all modern and democratic reform in society. Issues in dispute include Art. 59 (F) which prevents Aung San Suu Kyi becoming president and Art. 436, on the military veto. The next elections scheduled for late October and early November 2015.
Burma votes. A parliamentary seat for Aung San Suu Kyi
160 candidates vying to represent 17 political parties, to fill the 48 vacant seats. 159 international observers and 300 foreign journalists will monitor the elections. For the opposition leaders the polls are not "truly free and fair", but there is a need to "move forward". Protests of those excluded from the electoral roll, which register citizens who have died a long time ago.
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P. Samir Youssef
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