Ahead of its highly anticipated first national congress on Friday, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has announced the suspension of four members accused of promoting disunity within the party.
In a press release published on 5 March, the opposition party said three congressional representatives from Rangoon division and another from Sagaing were suspended for acting in ways that “may disintegrate and destroy unity within the party”.
The decision to suspend the members was made during a Congress Organising Central Commission meeting on 4 March 2013.
According to NLD spokesperson Nyan Win, the suspended representatives were allegedly trying to influence other members ahead of the congress.
“The NLD prohibits rallying and fomenting to deviate the congress from its objectives and we don’t allow campaigning [that says] who to vote for or who not to,” said the spokesperson during an interview with DVB.
“We have previously directed [members] not to interfere with the right of individual congressional representatives to vote freely for whoever they want. We have evidence that these [four representatives] had violated these regulations so we suspended them.”
But at a press conference on Wednesday, suspended member Khin Maung Shein denied allegations that he had conspired with the other three barred members.
“I never met with those individuals. It was an unfair accusation against me. I want the Central Congress Commission, those who made the move and those behind it to apologise to me,” said Khin Maung Shein, an attorney who joined the NLD in 1993 and worked with the party’s legal assistance wing.
According to a press release obtained by The Voice Weekly news journal, rumours had begun circulating claiming that he was scheming to become a member of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee and was hoping to oust Aung San Suu Kyi from her position if the NLD won in 2015.
However, Khin Maung Shein said he had never met with the other barred members, who were suspended for allegedly conspiring with him.
While the NLD spokesperson said the barred representatives actively tried to persuade fellow party members before the congress, suspended member Thant Zin said he was unaware of the accusations.
According to a post from The Modern News Journal, Thant Zin claims he was suspended before being allowed to defend himself.
During a press conference today, the NLD member said the party was allowing their emotions to get the best of them, while other members were more concerned with pleasing the higher ups and at the same time oppressing those with lower standing.
After returning to Burma’s political landscape and capturing 43 of the 45 available parliamentary seats in last April’s by-elections, the NLD has shown signs of fracturing at the grassroots level.
In October, more than 130 NLD members resigned in protest of alleged “cronyism” within its leadership over the selection of members to help organise the national congress.
The NLD members in the Irrawaddy division’s Bassein township accused the party of selecting members with close personal ties to its leadership over long-serving members for the convention’s organising commission.
During the congress that kicks off tomorrow, hundreds of NLD members will meet in Rangoon’s Royal Rose Hall for three days, where the party’s aging leadership is likely to work at redefining its image ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The NLD’s congress will run from 8 to 10 March.