Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party on Thursday announced an expansion of its central executive committee, weeks after Aung San Suu Kyi called for reforms. The NLD has added nine new members to the existing 11-man central executive committee, which has led the party for two decades and includes several octogenarians.
The new party executives are Than Nyein, Ohn Kyaing, Win Myint, Tun Tun Hein, Win Naing, Nyan Win, Han Tha Myint, Thein Nyunt and May Win Myint, a relatively younger lot of elected members of parliament.Political observers said the move was a transitional step paving the way for the older NLD leaders to resign.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD's imprisoned general secretary, was permitted to meet with three senior NLD executives on December 16 to discuss party reforms.Authorities escorted her from her Yangon house-cum-prison to a government guesthouse where she was allowed to meet with NLD central executive committee members Lun Tin, 88; U Lwin, 86; and Aung Shwe, 91.
The threesome are known locally as "the world's oldest active political party leaders.""Daw [Madame] Aung San Suu Kyi asked for permission to reform the NLD central executive committee, and the three top leaders agreed with her," U Lwin said after the meeting.
The leadership of Myanmar's 2-decade-old opposition party has been widely criticized for showing a lack of initiative and unity during the past six years as Suu Kyi was kept under detention in near-isolation from her party.
Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her leadership of Myanmar's pro-democracy movement, remains the only well-known NLD leader outside the country, a reflection of the lacklustre nature of the party's central committee.
It was still unclear whether the NLD would contest a general election planned this year by Myanmar's ruling military junta.Western governments have said the election would lack credibility if Suu Kyi and the NLD are not permitted to participate.
It was unlikely that Suu Kyi would be freed before the polls. Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest and in August was sentenced to an additional 18 month of home detention.She was under house arrest when Myanmar held its last election in 1990, but if anything, her detention then helped the NLD romp to a landslide victory.
The success surprised the military, who blocked the NLD from taking power on the pretext that the country was not yet ready for civilian rule and needed a new constitution, which took 19 years to write.Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962.