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Burma Opposition NLD on Crossroads

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Download Aung San Suu Kyi is now eligible to run for Parliament under amendments to Burma’s election laws.

The changes pave the way for her party the National League for Democracy (NLD) to return to mainstream politics.

The NLD boycotted last year’s election because Aung San Suu Kyi and other former political prisoners were not allowed to run for office.

But now, Nay Thwin reports, the party is at a crossroads.


 It is believed that changes to the election law came as a result of a series of closed-door meetings between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military.

U Win Tin is with the National League for Democracy party, widely known as a hardliner.

But he says the party will most likely join the formal political process.

“I think the new law is more flexible and satisfying. The amendments now make it possible for former political prisoners to run. I would say that the new law is relatively fair and the NLD will be able to register as a political party again.”

A year ago when President Thein Sein promised political reforms and clean government, most believed it was just words.

But within a year, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 300 political prisoners were released.

And now the election laws have become more democratic.

But the constitution still automatically grants the army 25 percent seats of every legislative body. And the army can veto any decision made by the elected parliament.

Some activists say the NLD should not take part in the military governments system while there are still nearly 2,000 political prisoners in jail.   

But Maung Wun Tha, a prominent political columnist who spent more than six years in jail, wants to open a new chapter.

“What important is both sides should not lose their faces and solve the deadlock in proper way. So far I see some improvements that party registration law is relaxed and NLD is reconsidering about the elections. For me, I just want to emphasize that the upcoming elections should be free and fair so that NLD can register and compete in the elections.”

The NLD will meet on the 18th of November for a Historic Vote on whether to register the Party.

If the majority votes in favors four dozen NLD candidates will enter by-elections that are likely to be held in December.

43-year-old Burmese farmer Kyaw Naing Oo is looking forward to being able to vote for the NLD.  

“Most of the voters I speak with just care about aunty San Suu Kyi-- we trust her and support whatever she does.”

Burmese voters in general have little faith in elections.

In the 1990 free and fair election the majority of people voted for the NLD but the military took over by force and never recognized the result.

Most of the NLD candidates were jailed or forced to flee the country.  
And again, last year the military government held flawed elections in which the army back party won.

U Aung Phay is a teacher from Rangoon who regularly goes on hunger strike and has been detained many times. He is now protesting to demand the next elections in Burma are truly free and fair elections.

“I wear a white shirt with the slogan “elections must reflect the desire of the people”. This is the way I demonstrate my desire peacefully. I have write this phrase on two hundred leaflets and distribute them in the busy tea shops and tell everyone I met that in free and fair elections people must not be threaten or forced. They must not be like the elections we had last year.”

Last Updated ( Monday, 14 November 2011 09:53 )  

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