NLD senior-level expansion 'undemocratic'

Jan 12, 2010 (DVB), Members of Burma's main opposition party have said that the recent expansion of the party's central committee did not involve democratic decision-making.

The addition of nine members to the National League for Democracy (NLD) party's central executive committee (CEC) will bring the total number to 20. The expansion follows calls from detained NLD Aung San Suu Kyi for new blood in the party.

But the decision by senior members to handpick the new additions from 14 assistant CEC members has been criticized by lower-ranking NLD members.

According to Myint Myint Aye, NLD chair in Meikhtila, Mandalay division, regional party members were not consulted about the expansion.

"I'd rather they ask for our opinion. We are a democratic party and I want things to be done in accordance with democratic protocol," she said.

Another former NLD member, Aye Ko, said that the CEC was "completely neglecting the opinion of the group's lower level".

"The plan would have been acceptable if the divisional and state NLD groups could nominate candidates of their choice and the CEC pick out the final list from them," he said.

A spokesperson for the NLD, Khin Maung Swe, said however that the 14 new additions include state and divisional-level secretaries, a move which Mandalay NLD organising-wing member, Myo Naing, said would "create more communication between the CEC and the divisional and state-level members".

The NLD is due to release a statement next week formalizing the expansion, the first of its kind since the party was formed in 1988.

Khin Maung Swe, a spokesperson for the NLD, said that the group will inform concerned government authorities about the expansion before any official announcement is made.

The announcement by Suu Kyi came in December last year after she met with three ageing NLD CEC members. At 64, Suu Kyi is the youngest of the current CEC, while nine members are in their 80s and 90s and most of them are said to be in bad health.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet and Nay Thwin

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