Opposition NDF leader pulls out

A leader of the opposition National Democratic Force (NDF) party has announced he will not run in Burma’s elections this year, but will remain at the helm of the party.

Khin Maung Swe is one of four members of the NDF, which split from the National League for Democracy (NLD) in May, who under Burmese law are permanently banned from participating in the 7 November polls.

As a senior member of the NLD, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, he was an elected member of parliament following the 1990 elections which the NLD won in a landslide. Regardless, the ruling junta held onto power and sentenced Khin Maung Swe to 16 years in prison for treason, providing a pretext for his ban this year.

The four, which include Sein Hla Oo, Tin Aung and Thar Sai, were told by the Election Commission (EC) last month that they could appeal the ban, but when the appeal was lodged the EC said that the documents submitted were “insufficient”.

Khin Maung Swe decided against resubmitting the appeal, which would have involved signing again a raft of agreements to prove financial health and acquiescence of governmental laws and the controversial 2008 constitution.

“I wouldn’t go as far to appeal in such a way as to sign the agreements. Due to concerns that the party’s reputation and my political reputation as the party’s leader will be damaged, I will not go forward [with the appeal],” he said.

“I’m not against the elections. As our party stands, we are not against the elections, and I will remain in my position as the party leader and will be enthusiastically participating in the party’s activities. My decision to not stand in the elections is my personal choice.”

The party is looking to compete for 120 seats in the new parliament and to form a opposition coalition through alliance with other parties.

Meanwhile, charges have been dropped against two brothers leading two different parties into the elections. Aye Lwin and Ye Htun, who head the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics and the 88 Generation Students and Youth parties respectively were accused of collecting donations from the public in violation of strict election laws.

It was the same two arties who were attacked last year by a 200-strong mob led by a local Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) secretary in Rangoon’s Kyimyindaing township. They were then sued for disturbing national tranquillity.

Both parties countersued the USDA secretary, who is closely allied to the Burmese junta, for attacking them, but all charges were later dropped.

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