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Suu Kyi turns to ethnic parties, military

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with ethnic party representatives who were attending a parliamentary session as she campaigned in Naypyidaw and extended a compassionate call to the country’s military.

It marks the first set of talks Suu Kyi has held with representatives from the country’s ethnic parties that won seats in the 2010 elections. “Previously, she had met with officials and leading members from different political parties, but this is the first time they met with her as members of parliament,” explained Dr Myat Nyana Soe, a National Parliament representative who accompanied Suu Kyi on her tour of Burma’s capital this week.

Among the 15 she met were Rakhine Nationalities Development Party’s Dr Aye Maung, who chairs a parliamentary watchdog committee, as well as leaders from the Shan, Chin and Palaung political leaders.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) has sought to clarify its stance on ethnic issues and explain the party’s motive and reasons for competing in the 1 April by-elections.

“I told her that we wish to see the NLD win the [by] elections and would welcome its presence in the parliament and that we believe the layout in the parliaments will be much better with the NLD, our ethnic parties and democratic parties joining hands together,” said Sai Maung Tin, joint-secretary of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party and an MP in the People’s Parliament.

He believes that such a result would allow for the country to develop at a much faster rate, following decades of economic stagnation resulting from military rule.

During a campaign speech yesterday morning in Naypyidaw, Burma’s capital, Suu Kyi urged the country’s military to back the NLD in the vote.

“She said the Tatmadaw [Burmese army] was very much loved by the people during her father’s era and that they should vote for the NLD to regain that love,” said a Rangoon-based journalist following the party’s campaign. He was referring to her father General Aung San, a revered military figure who led the fight for independence prior to his assassination in 1947.

Running for the NLD in the capital is former hip hop star and political prisoner Zayar Thaw, who since his release from jail in 2011 has gained a wide political following and is seen as a key candidate for the party.

Additional reporting by Min Lwin


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