Musicians band together for Suu Kyi’s party

Musicians gathered at the Rangoon lakeside home of Aung San Suu Kyi last week to pitch ideas for an album that her party will launch next month to galvanise support for them in the upcoming by-elections.

The nearly 50 artists met on Friday last week, the same day the National League for Democracy (NLD) submitted its application to register as a political party. Kyi Toe, a member of the party’s information wing, told DVB that the brainstorming session would be the first of several before the album is released in December.

Among those present were famed hip hop artists Yatha and Zayar Thaw – the latter is recognised as one of the early pioneers of the genre in Burma, and his veiled anti-government lyrics earned him a popular following, but also a three-year spell in prison. He was released in May this year.

Burma’s election body, the Union Election Commission, accepted the NLD’s application and will now deliberate over whether to approve the party to campaign for the interim vote. With the Thein Sein administration looking to appease international critics and portray Burma as a country in transition, however, the opposition party’s registration is expected to be accepted.

That would enable Suu Kyi, whose ban on running in the 2010 elections prompted the party’s boycott and subsequent dissolution, to contest one of 48 seats vacant in the military-dominated parliament.

The NLD’s application included the names of 21 people billed as the “founders” of the reborn party, 11 of whom are women. One of them, Nan Khin Htway Myint from Karen state, said however that this did not automatically mean they had a role in policy making.

The party will keep its traditional structure and hierarchy, from the Central Executive Committee comprised of the likes of veteran members Win Tin and Nyan Win, down to township-level coordinators.

Nan Khin Htway Myint said however that new members would be accepted after the by-elections.

Parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann said last week that the by-elections, which had originally been mooted for November, wouldn’t be held until early next year. According to Burmese law, the government needs to give three months’ noticed before the vote is held.

Additional reporting by Min Lwin.

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