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Oct 17, 2008 (DVB), More than 100 members of the National League for Democracy youth wing resigned yesterday due to dissatisfaction with the way party chairman Aung Shwe handled the restructuring of the wing.
Members of the youth wing had repeatedly asked to be involved in decisions over the restructuring, but said that their requests were rejected by the party chairman.
Instead, Aung Shwe issued a directive yesterday which prompted 109 youth members to resign, according to popular youth leader Khin Tun, a member of the youth organising committee for Lower Burma.
"All the young people were asking for was for the chairman to also listen to their opinions if something was going to be done to the youth wing," Khin Tun said.
Khin Tun said he felt the youth activists' request to have their say was justified.
"Had the youths demanded that the NLD central executive committee had to do what they wanted, then the youths would have been wrong," he explained.
"But all they wanted was for the youths to be part of the consultation process. If youth leaders were to be chosen, they wanted to choose the leaders themselves," he said.
"I think that is also fair. But the chairman rejected their request."
The youth wing members felt that Aung Shwe's decision to continue with reforms without consultation was anti-democratic, Khin Tun said.
"The youths said the chairman had rejected the fundamentals of democracy through his actions," he said.
"The chairman said he was acting according to his mandate," he explained.
"It made matters worse because the mandate given to him and the general secretary was the right to make decisions when dealing with the authorities only."
The mandate in question was given to the chairman and general secretary in 1998 to authorise them to make urgent decisions on behalf of the elected representatives, many of whom were detained at the time.
Khin Tun said that the restructuring of the youth wing did not fall within this mandate as it was not an urgent issue and did not require immediate interaction with the military regime.
The directive on NLD youth programmes signed by Aung Shwe and released yesterday listed six advisors and seven people in charge of implementing youth programmes, one of whom was Khin Tun.
Aung Shwe could not be reached for comment on the matter, and NLD information committee member Nyan Win said he was not authorised to speak about it.
Win Tin, a member of the NLD's central executive committee who was released from prison last month after more than 19 years in detention, said yesterday he had only just found out about the resignations.
"I received a message on Monday that there was some youth problems and that I should listen to what the youths were saying. I was not able to meet with anyone on that day," Win Tin said.
"When I went to the party headquarters this morning I did not hear anything," he went on.
"I left the headquarters and found out about it from the resignation letters that have arrived here now."
But Win Tin said he believed the issue could be resolved.
"If I am to comment on the matter, I have to say that anything that happened within the party can be resolved," he said.
"I cannot do it alone, so I can assure you that I will be discussing the matter with the central executive committee," he continued.
"I do not consider it to be a done deal. Whatever has been done is done, but I wish to ask all parties to be patient and to talk about it."
Reporting by Zin Maung