NLD Leaders Discuss Role in 2010 Election
By WAI MOE
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Deciding whether or not to participate in the forthcoming 2010 Burmese election is now one of the issues being discussed by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), say party sources.
Khin Maung Swe, an NLD executive member, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that in recent weeks, the NLD has held executive meetings focused on its strategy in the 2010 general elections.
“At the moment, the NLD stands on the party’s special political statement, issued on September 22,” said Khin Maung Swe. “The statement called for the government to review the constitution within six months and to conduct an inclusive process in Burmese politics. We think reviewing the constitution is an important step for national reconciliation.”
If the junta ignores the NLD’s call for a review, the crisis in Burmese politics will continue, he said.
He added that whether the NLD joins in the election depends largely on whether the junta will allow a constitutional review and permit all political parties to function freely.
He said, however, the NLD is keeping all of its options open depending on the political situation.
This weekend, the NLD met with an Italian diplomat, Attilio Massimo Ianucci, and discussed Burmese politics.
Khin Maung Swe said the NLD and the diplomat traded views. “He asked us if the NLD would take part in the election, but there was no urgency or call for the NLD to take part.”
Deutsche Press-Agentur (DPA) reported on November 29 that the Italian diplomat urged the NLD to participate in the election. Quoted in the report, Win Tin, a veteran journalist and a NLD executive, said: “He said at the present, the military occupied 100 percent of the government and after 2010, there would be only 25 percent. It is much better than the current situation.”
“We told him that 25 percent would be just a word and in practice the military would dominate. We said the constitution must be amended before the election.”
According to DPA, Win Tin told the press that within the NLD there were different views about the election. “Some [members] want to participant and some do not,” he said.
However, Aye Thar Aung, the secretary of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP), an umbrella opposition group, said he recently met with NLD leaders and his understanding is that NLD policy is to review the junta-backed constitution first rather than to join the election.
“If some of the NLD take part in the election, they might do it individually,” he said.
He said the CRPP’s stand on the election is that it will not take part unless the junta opens up the political process. The CRPP was formed in 1998 by the winning parties in the election, including the NLD and ethnic opposition parties.
Meanwhile, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the head of the ruling junta, reaffirmed on November 28 at a meeting of the junta’s mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, that the regime’s “Seven-step Road Map” is the only way to a smooth transition to democracy.
“Now, plans are well under way to see to the remaining steps including the 2010 transition work programme,” Than Shwe was quoted as saying, according to state-run media.
Political analysts said there could well be more restrictions placed on political parties in the 2010 election laws, which the junta has yet to announce. Some rumors say the election law will be made public early next year, while others say the junta has postponed the announcement until June.
“Unlike the 1990 elections, we expect more restrictions,” said Aye Thar Aung.