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Burma: The End of Politics in Exile?

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Download Aung San Suu Kyi will try to win a seat in Burma's parliament in forthcoming by-elections.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) have operated outside of the political system for years after they won a landslide election victory in 1990 but the result was never recognised by the ruling generals.

Now the NLD has annouced that urging the military to accept the results is no longer ‘realistic’ and they are joining the militarties political process.

As Nay Thwin reports it looks like the end of the political struggle outside the country.


In front of a crowd of hundreds of supporters a party spokesperson annouces their decision outside the NLD headquaters in Rangoon.

“The NLD will compete in future elections.”

In the last free and fair elections held in 1990 the NLD party won more than eighty percent of the vote. But the military ignored the result and NLD leaders and elected members were jailed.

But Aung San Suu Kyi says it’s time to move forward.

“No one, no individal or government can deny the 1990 elections result. But to continue to demand the People’s Parliament of Burma to recognise the results of that election is not realistic anymore; it is just an unrealistic demand.”

Aung San Suu Kyi says the decision to take part in the militaries elections will allow young NLD politicals to rise up and others who have lived in exile for years to come home.

After the military coup a government in exile was set up by the elected members from the 1990 election.

Dr Sein Win, who lives in Washington is the exiled prime minister.  But he says his position may no longer be needed.

“Aung San Suu Kyi says she will contest in the upcoming elections. If she contest in the new elections, the implementation of 1990 election results is not possible. So as soon as NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi practically contest the elections, I think it is no longer necessary for the government in exile to exist.”

The co-founder and former foreign minister of the exiled government flew back to Burma two months ago and other exiled politicals are thinking of following him.

Maesot a city on the Thai-Burma border is the home of the Burmese exile political movement.

Moe Zaw Oo is an Executive Committee member of the NLD-Librated Area based in Maesot.

“We welcome the NLD decision. We support it. But now we are thinking we have to change the brand of our organization, to review our stand, our activities in order to be in line with NLD’s stand inside Burma.”  

The NLD-Librate Areas has many branches around the world but it is struggling to raise funds and their political activities have been restricted by the Thai government.

Than Khe, the Chairman of the student army, the All Burma Students' Democratic Front says the pro-democracy movement outside Burma should not make any sudden decisions.

“I do not think the whole democracy movement will stop because of this decision by the NLD; it may change some international organisations perspectives and their approach towards Burma. For us, the current situation is the same as ever, nothing has change yet. It’s not a transitional period but a volatile situation. We are not yet in a situation of mutual-trust between the two sides. The government has not agreed to our key demands that all political prisoners be released and a national wide ceasefire be declared. So we will continue our struggle till those demands are met and their is a true political dialogue that involves mutual respect.”

His student army was very strong in the early 1990s, but it’s now struggling to recruite people and find funds to keep it going.

Back to Rangoon, Aung San Suu Kyi addresses a crowd of thousands who have come to an event for education network, which she formed soon after she was released.

“Our country is now at a very important point. We have made this decision because we think it should be alright, and we are taking risks for it. We listened to the different opinions from different groups. But when the time came to choose only one way, we had to do it decisively for the sake of our nation. We do understand it is very risky, it is brinkmanship -- but we trust you will support us.”


Last Updated ( Monday, 28 November 2011 09:56 )  

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