Opposition parties trade harsh words

The old guard of Burma’s pro-democracy movement has accused the National Democratic Force (NDF) of “defying democratic procedures” as it campaigns for looming elections.

Relations between the NDF and the National League for Democracy (NLD), whose decision not to compete in the 7 November polls forced its dissolution, have steadily soured since the announcement was made to boycott the elections.

The NDF was born out the ashes of the NLD, which is headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and includes senior party members who disagreed with the boycott.

A statement released by the NLD yesterday explained the “unanimous decision [announced on 29 March] to not register again as a political party”, citing unfair laws governing the elections, but added:

“However, some members of the NLD who said the [party] was longer in existence as a political party defied democratic procedures by ignoring the unanimous decision and forming the National Democratic Force.”

But NDF leader Khin Maung Swe told DVB that in fact a number of people present at the meeting to determine the NLD’s future failed to object to the boycott “due to our esteem for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s opinion”.

He said that because no objection was voiced, the NLD claimed a unanimous decision had been made. “It wasn’t true the decision was unanimous – in fact there were people who favoured the registration [for elections] but they didn’t get a chance to speak out.”

“There was no voting – it was only a decision favoured by the majority,” he finished.

The NLD statement also pointed to the NDF’s use of the khamauk [bamboo hat] logo made famous by Suu Kyi’s party in the last elections in 1990, which the NLD won by a landslide although the junta refused to hand over power.

The use of the symbol created “confusion…that the NDF is an offshoot of the NLD, and making false impressions that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is their leader”, it said.

“Thus, the NLD is making a clear statement here that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is not a leader of the NDF; that the party [NDF] is not a life boat of the NLD and that the bamboo hat logo and symbol of that party has no relevance to the NLD.”

The NDF is fielding 163 candidates for elections next week, while the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the strongest contender, has more than 1,100 candidates.

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