New Delhi (Mizzima) – The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, is to halt its political activities and “plunge headlong into possible social work” from May 7, an NLD spokesman said.
Ohn Kyaing, a spokesman and party central executive committee member, made the comments today after attending a meeting of the committee at party headquarters in Bahan Township, Rangoon. “We will stop political work from May 7 and we will plunge headlong into possible social work,” he told Mizzima.
The group will provide social services including programmes for: HIV patients; access to pure drinking water for victims of Cyclone Nargis; families of political prisoners; legal aid to clients sued in political cases, and preserving the natural environment, Ohn Kyaing said.
Fellow committee member Win Tin elaborated on the NLD’s new path.
“Our party is a political party, so, when need to carry out tasks; those can help to improve the people’s living conditions,” he said.
“We will help the victims of injustice, we will lead when the people need [us to lead], we will [continue to] fight for the people’s rights. These are social tasks. When we don’t have offices, we need to go to the people and pay for services for them,” he said. “We will find politics among the people. Some tasks may match current tasks or we may find more powerful tasks. Or our tasks may involve ‘soft politics’. Either way, we will move among and provide for the grass roots.”
Sixteen of the 20-member committee attended, apart from the general secretary, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest; party chairman Aung Shwe, who is unwell; party secretary U Lwin and Lun Tin.
Members also decided against removing party signboards and flags from NLD offices. “We may be able to open the offices, but if the authorities order them closed and locked, there’s nothing we can do. They have the power …,” Win Tin said. All the same, we won’t voluntarily close the offices but we will keep the flag flying.”
Ms Suu Kyi urged her party to keep the signboards and flags up when she met her lawyers on Saturday, despite the party’s automatic dissolution on May 6. The junta released electoral laws on March 8 that appeared designed to directly hamper Suu Kyi and her party as they forbid anyone who has been imprisoned from taking part in polls along with anyone who has been married to a foreigner, both categories with which the NLD leader cannot comply qualifies. Also, parties must re-register before May 6 or cease to be. The NLD chose against re-registering, saying an election under such laws would be unfair and unjust.
Though there were about 300 NLD offices throughout the country, the military junta closed them all after the Depayin massacre in May 2003. But, after it declared the electoral laws on March 8, it allowed NLD to open more than 100 offices.
Details of decisions reached at the party meeting will be declared soon, a source said.