The party of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has taken the next step in its ongoing effort to revitalize itself, according to party sources.
On Monday, the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) held it first meeting since adding nine new members a week earlier and resolved to reorganize its second-line leadership in the Central Committee (CC).
|NLD CEC member Khin Maung Swe releases a dove at the party's headquarters to mark the 62nd anniversary of Burma's Independence Day on Jan. 4, 2010.|
“The party will reorganize the CC in the near future. After the CEC meeting on Monday, we told our chairman, U Aung Shwe, about our plan,” said NLD spokesperson Win Naing, who is also one of the new CEC members.
“We did this in line with party regulations—it has nothing to do with the election,” he added. “Actually, it is something that we have been planning to do since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest for the first time in 1995.”
The move comes just one week after the party's first major internal shake-up since it was founded in 1988. On Jan. 11, the CEC chose nine new members—all in their 60s and 70s—expanding its total membership to 20.
Win Naing said that when the new CC is formed, it will consist of 80 to 120 members from all of the country's states and divisions. He added that the party hasn't had a CC since 1991, when it was abolished under orders from the ruling junta.
When the NLD was formed in 1988, the CEC had 12 members, with four from each of the party's three factions, led by General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman Aung Gyi and Deputy Chairman Tin Oo. The CC had 30 members, evenly divided among the three factions.
Win Naing said that plans to expand the CC membership did not contravene the NLD constitution, which says that the CC can have a maximum of 120 members.
Win Naing said nothing about plans to reform other influential NLD committees, such as the party's youth and women's working groups—which played key role in the party's electoral victory in 1990—but said that the party aimed to carry out thorough reforms nationwide.
At its meeting on Monday, the newly formed CEC received a letter from Chairman Aung Shwe saying he was “glad about the reorganization of the CEC” and urging its members to stand by the NLD’s Shwegondaing Declaration, which calls for the release of all political prisoners, genuine dialogue between the ruling junta and the democratic opposition, a review of the 2008 Constitution and acknowledgment of the result of the 1990 election.
The plan to enlarge the NLD leadership was first raised when detained party leader Suu Kyi met with ailing NLD leaders in December. At the time, Suu Kyi told the party elders that she wanted to reorganize the party's leadership.
This meeting came after Suu Kyi offered to meet with the regime to discuss the issue of sanctions. In October, the junta allowed her to meet with its liaison officer, ex Maj-Gen Aung Kyi, and Western diplomats. She held her latest meeting with Aung Kyi at a government guest house in Rangoon last Friday.
Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Nyan Win, who is now a member of the CEC, has also recently been given permission to meet with her to discuss a legal appeal against the extension of her house arrest last year. Besides her court case, it is likely that Suu Kyi and Nyan Win have also discussed the current political situation, including the NLD's reorganization.
Suu Kyi met Nyan Win most recently on Jan.12, just three days ahead of her latest meeting with Aung Kyi and six days before this week's CEC meeting.
Another reason for the NLD reorganization was the release of some leaders from long-term imprisonment. Prominent leader Win Tin and others such as Khin Maung Swe, May Win Myin and Than Nyein were released in September 2008. Shortly after their release, the former inmates attempted to hold a regular meeting of the NLD leadership. All are now CEC members.
Win Tin is now in Mandalay to attend a memorial ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of late well-known Burmese journalist U Hla. NLD sources said this is Win Tin's first long trip since his release in 2008, and that the authorities have not interfered so far.