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Ageing Tin Oo bows out of elections

Veteran Burmese politician Tin Oo, who spent years in detention before returning to the country’s political arena last year as deputy leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, says he will not compete in looming by-elections.

The popular pro-democracy activist has been a firm fixture in Burma’s opposition, despite various spells in prison and under house arrest. At 85, however, he feels he is no longer suitable to hold a seat in parliament.

“I am old. I’d just rather let the younger generations take part [in the parliament] instead of myself – I don’t feel like I want to engage in [parliamentary] talks,” he told DVB.

A former commander-in-chief of the Burmese army, Tin Oo was forced to retire in 1976 and subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison for high treason. Since his release in 1980 under an amnesty, he has spent additional spells in jail and under house arrest before his release last year.

Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi has suggested she will contest a seat in a rural township south of Rangoon called Kawhmu, although that has not been made official.

Her ban on running in the 2010 elections had prompted the party’s boycott and subsequent dissolution, but amendments to electoral laws made recently have paved the way for the NLD’s return.

Forty-eight seats are up for grabs in Burma’s parliament, although the government is yet to announce a date for the polls. A number of parties have complained that the lack of a date is scuppering their ability to properly prepare.

NLD spokesperson Nyan Win responded to claims made by some news journals inside the country that the party would accommodate up to one million members by saying there was no limit on the number of those who could join.

“That number is merely speculations but we will accept [anyone] who meets the qualifications and conditions required under [Burmese law] and our specifications,” he said.

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.

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