Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NLD sets pre-conditions for role in elections

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s main opposition party – the National League for Democracy – on Wednesday said it was willing to contest the forthcoming 2010 elections if the military regime releases political prisoners, and makes proper amendments to its Constitution.

Nyan Win, the NLD spokesperson, said the party would decide on contesting the 2010 elections only if the government unconditionally released political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Tin Oo Khun Tun Oo, Sai Nyunt Lwin, Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, and reviewed and amended the 2008 Constitution.

“We reiterate our call to the junta to amend the Constitution and for the release of political prisoners, and then we will decide on contesting the 2010 elections,” Nyan Win told Mizzima.

The NLD voiced its stand in the “Shwegonedine Declaration” released on Wednesday, at the conclusion of a two-day plenary meeting between party leaders in Rangoon on April 28 and 29.

The NLD, which won a landslide victory in the last general elections in 1990, said so far they had not prepared for the ensuing elections, but would do so once the government responded to their request of reviewing the Constitution and amending the contents that were undemocratic.

“These points are the pre-conditions for us to be able to contest the elections,” Nyan Win added.

The party also called on Junta supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe to embark on a dialogue with detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma’s ruling military junta, as part of its seven-step roadmap, approved a new Constitution in a referendum in May 2008 and declared it would hold a general election in 2010.

However, the opposition, including the NLD have said, the junta’s Constitution was drafted unilaterally and does not reflect the peoples’ aspirations. The NLD has called for a review of the Constitution and the amendment of its contents.

But a few critics have said, the NLD should realize that it needs to take a clear-cut stand on the junta’s proposed 2010 elections, as the current stand could confuse the people.

Aung Naing Oo, a Thailand-based Burmese political analyst, said, the NLD should take a clear stand on whether they would contest the 2010 elections, because having no clear stand reduces their credibility.

Aung Naing Oo said, “If the NLD considers itself a revolutionary group, then they should clearly reject the junta’s elections on grounds that it would be manipulated, but if they consider themselves a political party, it would be wise for them to contest the elections.”

But, with the junta not wanting the NLD to take part in the election, the party’s pre-conditions for joining the elections could be serving the junta’s interest, as the junta was unlikely to fulfill them, Aung Naing Oo added.

“The junta would obviously prefer not having the opposition contesting the elections. So the NLD’s current stand of demanding pre-conditions could be serving the junta’s interests,” he said.

But Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of the exiled NLD-Liberated Area’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said going ahead without the NLD would put a big question mark on the junta’s legitimacy, as the NLD was the legitimate winner of the 1990 elections.

“The junta would lack legitimacy, if the NLD does not contest the elections,” he said.

He said, the NLD was clear in its stand in setting pre-conditions before it could decide on joining the elections, as there was no guarantee that the junta would honour the election results.

“Without all these pre-conditions, nobody can assure that the junta will honour the election results just like they did not in the 1990 elections,” he said.

He said, with the NLD declaring their pre-conditions, it was only fair to give some space and time to the junta to think it over before the NLD could make another move by declaring their stand on the elections – to reject or to contest.

Aung Shwe, NLD’s Chairman, in his opening speech on Tuesday urged NLD members to brainstorm on the junta’s elections and to decide what the party should do.

Nyan Win said, the two-day meeting at the party headquarters in Rangoon’s Shwegonedine had been crucial as they were able to come up with a unified stand. He said, it was the fifth such meeting that the NLD had been able to hold in the past 20 years.

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