Friday, March 13, 2009

We Will Boycott Election: CRPP

The Irrawaddy News

The Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP) will not participate in next year’s general election in Burma unless political prisoners are released and the junta agrees to a review of the constitution, according to Aye Thar Aung, a spokesman for the committee, who spoke to The Irrawaddy on Friday.

“The release of political prisoners is the first step toward democracy,” he said. “The second is to allow for a review of the new constitution. If not, we will not be involved in the election.”

The announcement came after a meeting was held in Rangoon on Thursday between representatives of the five political parties that comprise the CRPP coalition: the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Mon National League for Democracy, the Arakan League for Democracy, and Zomi National Congress.

Between them, the five parties took 89 percent of the electoral votes at the 1990 general election—some 433 of the parliament’s 485 seats—with the NLD winning a landslide victory.

However, the elected representatives were never allowed to take power and many of their members were subsequently arrested and imprisoned by the military junta.

Despite the announcement, Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, refused to comment to The Irrawaddy on Friday about the CRPP decision or the 2010 election.

The NLD has previously called on the Burmese military regime to review the new constitution and release all political prisoners, including its general secretary, Aung San Suu Kyi.

At the 14th Asean Summit in Thailand last month, Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein reportedly promised that Burma would allow United Nations to monitor the 2010 election, a date for which still has not been announced.

But Aye Thar Aung said that allowing the international community to monitor next year’s general election is not as important a factor as the need to review the new constitution.

“It is simply unacceptable that the military will reserve 25 percent of seats in the parliament for itself according to the new constitution,” he said.

He added that the CRPP seeks meaning dialogue between the military junta and the opposition groups for the future of democracy in Burma.

Some leaders of political parties within the CRPP are still in detention, including Suu Kyi and Tin Oo of the NLD, and ethnic Shan leader Hkun Htun Oo.

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