The National League for Democracy has been forced to relocate a rally this upcoming weekend headlined by popular party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, after its plan to hold the event in the shadow of Rangoon’s iconic Shwedagon Pagoda was rejected by the divisional government.

Burma’s main opposition party originally intended to hold the Nov. 1 rally at People’s Park on Pyay Road, near the western entrance to the gleaming Buddhist monument, where 27 years ago Suu Kyi gave her first official political speech to an estimated 500,000 people, demanding that Burma’s former military regime deliver democratic reforms.

But Tun Myint, the NLD’s Rangoon campaign chairman, told The Irrawaddy that the regional government informed the party on Thursday that authorities could not grant permission for a rally at the park, primarily citing concerns that it would disrupt traffic along a main artery of the increasingly congested commercial capital.

Given the nature of past rallies led by Suu Kyi, which have drawn thousands of supporters to venues across the country, authorities feared a tangle of vehicles on roads surrounding People’s Park and attendant safety concerns for rally attendees and motorists, Tun Myint quoted a government official as saying.

“Plus, he said the area is just for public recreation, like Maha Bandoola Park downtown, not for any political activities,” he added.

The government offered several alternative locations for the rally, and the NLD has opted to relocate the event to an open-air sports grounds near Thuwunna Myo Oo Zedi, a pagoda in Thingangyun Township, the regional NLD campaign planner said.

“They just made excuses because they don’t want to permit the area we requested,” he said.

The Sunday rally, from 3 pm to 5 pm, comes just one week before Burma goes to the polls in the Nov. 8 general election. It will be the first event that Suu Kyi has held in Rangoon proper, after making trips earlier this month to the city’s outskirts, on Oct. 10 and Oct. 24.

On the campaign trail in Kachin State early this month, a venue in the state capital Myitkyina where the NLD planned to hold a Suu Kyi-led rally was padlocked by the local government, which reasoned that “pre-election gatherings at the grounds that have a ‘political purpose’” were prohibited.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/election/news/rangoon-govt-puts-kibosh-on-suu-kyi-rally-at-peoples-park