Thu 25 Feb 2010
Filed under: Inside Burma
The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires in Rangoon has met Central Executive Committee (CEC) members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) to discuss the opposition party’s political stance and whether it will participate in this year’s election.Chargé d’Affaires Larry Dinger, accompanied by the embassy’s Political/ Economic Chief Jennifer Harhigh, met with five members of the NLD’s CEC––Vice President Tin Oo, Win Tin, Khin Maung Swe, Nyunt Wai and Than Htun.
The meeting took place at 1 p.m. On Wednesday at the Rangoon headquarters of the NLD and lasted nearly one hour, Win Tin told The Irrawaddy.
“They asked about the reorganizing of our Central Committee and the party’s participation in the election,” said NLD spokesman Khin Maung Swe, adding that the CEC representatives had told the US chargé d’affairs that the NLD had not yet decided if it would participate in the election.
The current NLD position is based on its Shwegondaing Declaration, released in April last year, which calls for a review of the controversial constitution, political dialogue and the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including its leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It also called on the military junta to recognize the results of the 1990 election and for an all-inclusive dialogue.
Dinger stated clearly that the US did not want to make any comment on whether the NLD should take part in the election, nor whether there should be a review of the 2008 constitution, said Win Tin.
“However, the US official said they would urge dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Snr-Gen Than Shwe ahead of the election,” added Win Tin.
The US embassy in Rangoon confirmed the meeting, but would not give further details about the discussions.
The US has called for a national dialogue involving the regime, the NLD, other opposition parties and ethnic minority groups ahead of the election, but has not urged the junta to review the Constitution, which will facilitate continued military rule.
In September, the US announced it will pursue a policy of “engagement” and sanctions simultaneously with the regime.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, who led a US fact-finding mission to Burma in early November, held meetings with junta officials including Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein, opposition leader Suu Kyi and ethnic leaders.
Campbell and his deputy, Scot Marciel, were the highest-ranking American officials to visit Burma since 1995, when former US Congressman Bill Richardson and then US ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright traveled to the country in a bid to push for democratic reforms.
According to diplomatic sources, Campbell is planning another trip to Burma but has not yet fixed a date.
Meanwhile, the NLD on Thursday selected 100 candidates and eight auxiliary members for the opposition party’s central committee.
The selection of candidates for the party’s second-tier leadership has come in for criticism from some members, particularly in Pegu Division, for its centralized control. However, CEC member Dr. Win Naing said the party would solve the problem.
In its most significant move to reorganize the party since the 1990s, the NLD has chosen 108 members for the reconstituted central committee, which was abolished by the regime in 1991.
In January, the NLD reformed the CEC by electing nine new members, whereas it formerly had 11 members.