Fri 29 Jul 2011
Filed under: Inside Burma
Power was not transferred to Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), when it won a landslide victory in an election two decades ago because the party allegedly threatened the country’s military leaders with a Nuremberg-style war tribunal, according to the head of the Union Election Commission (EC).
On Wednesday, EC chief ex-Gen Tin Aye told officials of political parties that took part in last year’s election that the NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, was not given power following the 1990 election because the party had threatened to bring the then military leaders before a war tribunal.
Tin Aye was apparently referring to a comment by late NLD leader Kyi Maung, who said in early July 1990, about a month after the 1990 election that “here in Burma, we do not need any Nuremberg-style tribunal” when he was asked by a foreign journalist if the NLD would require putting the military on trial for past crimes.
A Buddhist monk looks at a poster of Aung San Suu Kyi at the NLD’s Rangoon headquarters on June 18, 2011, a day before her 66th birthday. (Photo: AP)
Although Kyi Maung did not say that the military leaders would be tried if NLD party was allowed to form a government, the mere mention of a war tribunal angered the ruling generals, who had Kyi Maung arrested and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
The official reason the military leaders did not hand over power in 1990 was that the regime said the election was only intended to chose representatives to a committee to draft a new national constitution.
Just before last year’s parliamentary election, which the NLD boycotted, the former military regime officially nullified the 1990 election results.
In response to Tin Aye’s remarks, NLD spokesman Nyan Win said on Friday that the late NLD leader Kyi Maung never said that there would be a war tribunal.
More recently, however, the NLD has expressed support for a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma proposed by the UN human rights special rapporteur on Burma, Thomas Quintana.
The NLD was officially dissolved last year for refusing to take part in the election. Suu Kyi reportedly discussed the legal status of the party during her meeting with a senior Burmese minister on Monday.