Leading National League for Democracy figure Dr. Thein Lwin will be forced out of the party’s inner circle, after representing protesting students.
The former exile and veteran of the 1988 student uprising will no longer hold a position in the NLD’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) after entering high level negotiations with the government, on behalf of the National Network for Education Reform (NNER).
The NNER, a high profile advisory body, has lobbied Burma’s Ministry of Education alongside student unionists and unaffiliated protestors calling for the revision of the recently enacted and widely unpopular National Education Law.
NLD Chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters outside parliament on Tuesday that it was against party protocol for a CEC member to hold affiliations that could cause a “conflict of interest.”
“According to NLD regulations, an individual holding an official position and serving in the party is not allowed to work with other organisations, as this is a conflict of interest,” Suu Kyi said.
“This is the NLD’s position. I have spoken to Thein Lwin about this before. I told him that if he wants to work with the NNER, whether as an official or a representative, then he could do so as a regular NLD member.
“If he choses to do so, he should forfeit his role in the party’s executive. He must choose one of the two. If he is keen to stand with the NNER, then he has a freedom to do so. But according to the NLD’s regulations, he will not be able to retain his official rank in the party.
Thein Lwin spent a prolonged amount of time in exile in Thailand after the 1988 student uprisings, in which Suu Kyi played a central role.
He said that he believes in the student’s cause, and would not forsake them, even if it meant losing his high rank in Burma’s main opposition party.
“As for me, I see that the students’ demands are righteous,” Thein Lwin told DVB.
“They are calling for education reform, in the name of democracy and the country. They are bidding to bring about good quality education for all and therefore I support them and stand by them,” Thein Lwin pleged.
“I have decided to join the quadripartite talks the students called for and I will stand by and support their bid for education reform. For that, if the NLD wants to punish me for breaking regulation, I’m ready to face it.”
On Sunday the NLD released a statement erroneously reporting that Thein Lwin had not represented students in Naypyidaw meetings that same day.
The meeting broke down, leading to a student pledge to resume the marches that have crisscrossed the country over the past two weeks.