03/24/2010, 00.00
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Burmese exile: without Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD has no reason to exist

by Tint Swe
The National League for Democracy has to make a choice "of life or death." The reopening of the offices sought by the junta and the election laws are a means to exclude the Nobel Laureate from political life in Myanmar. The people together support the opposition leader’s decision against registration.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Yesterday Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democratic opposition in Myanmar, declared her opposition to the registration of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the Electoral Commission, thus excluding participation in elections. Through her lawyer Nyan Win, the Nobel Laureate condemned the military's adoption of unfair "rules", which basically prevent her from voting or being elected.  

We asked for the opinion of Tint Swe, a member of the Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), consisting of refugees from Myanmar after the 1990 elections, won by the National League for Democracy and never acknowledged by the junta military. Fled to India in 1990, since  21 December 1991, he has lived in New Delhi. Since then he has been part of the NCGUB where he holds the post of information officer for South Asia and East Timor


 “The long awaited announcement was ultimately made by military junta of Burma on the International Women’s Day and it deliberately barred the Lady of Burma not only from running in the election but also from being a member of a political party.

Officially they are called the laws relating to the upcoming election. The so-called laws are not passed by legislators but by the military coup leaders. So all the laws are what the generals like and what the democratic opposition do not.

The military regime has their favoured constitution which will guarantee supremacy of army at all levels of administrations. The sham referendum was held while 134,000 people died due to the devastating cyclone. Now they have made the laws that will bury more people.

They also made similar laws days after coup in 1988. The old ones barred a woman who married to a foreigner and the new one bars persons who are sentenced to jail. So for the last 20 years the coup leaders have basically done nothing other than combat a single woman.

According to the election law of 1988 members of armed forces and government employees were not allowed to be the members of political parties or contest elections. But that clause was omitted in the new one because all the 25% of seats in parliaments and assemblies will be occupied by soldiers and officers.

A surprise in the new law is the mentioning of the definition of “political party” and that of “party”, which was not included in the old law. It states that legally registered political parties have to respect the 2008 constitution. The National League for Democracy (NLD) and other ethnic parties of 1990 election have been asking for a review of that controversial constitution. If this demand is not met all those parties can not register or remain as political parties.

There are 10 parties of 1990 election left as legal. According to Article 25, they have to register again before May 7. Leaving aside the problem of the date of registration, the NLD are now faced with its most important do-or-die decision since inception of the party. According to Chapter II, Article 4 (e) of the Political Parties Registration Law, Aung San Suu Kyi must be excluded as a member of the party. Most of the people believe that without her NLD means nothing.

It is a catch twenty-two situation indeed. In Burmese, we would say that it is the example of a thorn-apple or Datura stramonium. Your hand will be hurt if you hold it and you would be mad to swallow it. Most of the opposition would like to bleed rather than be fooled.

After announcing the laws, the regime reopened all NLD offices which have been sealed since 2003. It does not mean that they are relaxing their surveillance on the party; rather they want to press the NLD towards registration because the world has been asking for inclusive election. But the NLD’s participation in the election cannot be interpreted as positive. The regime has put a perfect trap in place.

The NLD General Secretary and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is against her party being registered with the Election Commission because the electoral regulations are unjust. She is fighting for justice and freedom. Those who see this election as an opportunity will go against her raison d'être. But communities across the nation, one by one, are sending signs of support to NLD headquarters for Suu Kyi’s stand. The people are sending women’s clothes to NLD leaders who want to register.

On 29th March, the NLD decision will be revealed. But the party appears divided. The senior general is smiling. The destiny of pro-democracy struggle depends on the brain power of NLD leadership, so does the roadmap of the junta.”

There are political veterans, some youth and opportunists who are desperate to play the game as set by the junta. For them a seat in the parliament is better than democracy and freedom. They try to claim that something is better than nothing. They are happy to swallow the thong-apple also known as devil's weed.

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