Enthusiastic local supporters greeted National League for Democracy (NLD)’s chair Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday as she campaigned in Mon state, despite being forced to relocate venues following a bemusing warning from authorities.
Suu Kyi eventually held the rally at the football field in Kywegyangon village located about six miles from the state’s capital of Moulmein, after being denied access to Thanlwin Garden’s where the speech was originally planned to be staged.
The municipality’s wing of the Development Affairs Ministry said the opposition leader was prevented from speaking in the original destination on the grounds that it would adversely affect a nearby forest.
Such a move seemingly did not affect turnout, according to the NLD. “I estimate over 100,000 people showed up. The crowd spilled into the streets surrounding the field, including those who travelled from Phayathonsu, Karen state’s Myawaddy and such,” said local NLD member Ei Ei Khin.
A reporter following the NLD’s campaign trail said Suu Kyi explained to supporters why her party decided not to compete in the 2010 elections, while urging them to vote for her party’s by-election candidate in the area, Khin Htay Kywe.
“She explained why the NLD had to stick with the 1990 election results, which she hadn’t mentioned before,” said the reporter.
“She explained thoroughly why the NLD decided not to enter the 2010 elections – because [the election law] required the party to expel their members who were in prison and they decided it would be very indecent to do such a thing, and that the party is now competing in the by-elections because the election law has been amended to some extent.”
During her speech, Suu Kyi also canvassed for Khin Htay Kywe and promised [supporters] that she would visit again if the candidate wins in the by-elections.
There are four parties competing in the 1 April by-elections in Mon state, including candidates from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, as well as the National Unity Party, All Mon Region Democracy Party and the National League for Democracy.