RANGOON — The country’s main opposition party has sacked and expelled a number of officials in Pakokku Township, in response to a public protest criticizing the party’s candidate list for the coming general election.
A letter released by the National League for Democracy on Monday said that 10 party members had their memberships revoked as punishment for joining a protest in the Magwe Division town last week. At least 12 other local party officials had resigned in response to the party’s edict.
Among the expelled were three of the five Pakokku Township members belonging to party’s Pakokku District central committee, including the committee’s chairman and vice-chair, as well as rank-and-file members.
Nyan Win, a spokesman for the NLD, confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the memberships had been revoked.
“Yes, we did it, as they went against the party’s decision,” he said.
On Friday, more than 300 people in Pakokku staged a demonstration to express their opposition to the NLD’s roster of local candidates, selected by the party’s Rangoon-based central executive committee to contest the Nov. 8 election.
Township party officials said that the NLD’s leadership had failed to consider the wishes of local residents by ignoring the candidates suggested by township and divisional party members, and vowed not to vote in November unless the central committee reconsidered its decision.
Htay Maung, until yesterday a member of the NLD’s Pakokku Township committee, said that the party leadership had not conducted an investigation into the protest, and he had only learned that his membership had been withdrawn when the letter was released. He said that at least half of those expelled did not join Friday’s protest.
“At least they should have done an investigation,” he said. “We joined the NLD as we hate dictatorship, but what they are doing now is worse than dictatorship.”
He added that more than a dozen of the Pakokku Township’s 18 party officials had tendered their resignation by Tuesday. Among those to quit was Dr Kyi Min, who joined the party when it was founded in 1988.
“I see no democracy in the party. I resigned from the party because I love it. If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is aware that something is going wrong with the party’s central executive committee thanks to our resignation, what we have done may be fruitful,” he said.
One of the protest’s organizers, former party member Kyaw Win Aung, said the Friday demonstration was reflective of overwhelming local sentiment against the Rangoon-imposed candidates.
“Now they have kicked me out. I feel sorry for that, as they even didn’t bother to ask us why we did it,” he said.
The NLD’s Magwe Division joint secretary, Than Aung, earlier tendered his resignation from the party on Sunday, after a meeting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Minbu.
Than Aung could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The NLD has faced a torrent of criticism from democracy activists and party members since the candidate list was published on Aug. 1. On Monday, over a dozen party members from the outer-Rangoon township of Hlegu staged a protest against the leadership’s candidates in Tamwe.