By WAI MOE
Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), plans to hold a rare special meeting on April 28-29 to discuss what spokesman Han Thar Myint described as “several matters important for the country.”
These matters were likely to include the proposed 2010 general election, Western sanctions against Burma and a proposed review of the newly adopted constitution, Han That Myint told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.
The meeting will be attended by the party executive, those NLD members who were successful in the 1990 election, senior members and representatives of the women’s and youth sections of the party,
“The meeting will be more like an open discussion on several matters important for the country,” Han Thar Myint said.
Invitations to the special meeting were sent out earlier this month by NLD chairman Aung Shwe, who said the executive committee would read “a paper” to participants. Han Thar Myint did not say what the paper would contain.
The NLD, led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, was formed after the 1988 uprising and went on to win more than 80 percent of constituencies in the 1990 general election, the result of which was ignored by the junta.
In its 20 years existence, the NLD has been a frequent target of the regime. Its offices across the country have been frequently closed down, many of its members have been harassed and forced to leave the party.
In those two decades, the NLD has been able to hold only two large-scale meetings, once before the 1990 election and a second in 1997.
An attempt to arrange a meeting in August 1998 of members elected in the 1990 poll failed when the junta arrested several who had planned to take part. Restrictions were also placed on members’ travel.
Since his release from prison in September 2008, prominent NLD leader Win Tin has been trying to reorganize the party, including holding regular executive committee meetings.
No regime reaction to the planned meeting this month has been noted, Han Thar Myint said.
Apart from regime harassment, the NLD has also been targeted by critics of its ageing leadership and lack of reform. All executive committee members, with the exception of Suu Kyi and Khin Maung Swe, are in their eighties.
NLD sources say no reform of the party leadership can be undertaken because of restrictions by the regime.
An NLD decision on whether or not to participate in the 2010 election is still awaited. The party has, however, called for a review of the constitution adopted in 2008, but last month junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe rejected the proposal.
The constitution reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for military officials and assures the military a leading role in Burma’s politics.