Cast Aside by NLD, Nyo Nyo Thin Eyes Lower House as Independent

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 7 August 2015

RANGOON — An outspoken lawmaker recently shunned by Burma’s main opposition party has announced that she will contest upcoming elections as an independent, claiming the party’s decision not to include her as a candidate was based on a rift between herself and a small handful of senior members.

“This is between me and two or three members of the leadership,” said Nyo Nyo Thin, who for the past five years has served s a member of the Rangoon divisional parliament, about her surprise exclusion from the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Nyo Nyo Thin declined to name the NLD members with whom she was at odds.

“I will no longer answer anything related to the NLD,” she said. “If you want to know, ask the NLD.”

The legal scholar said she had been invited by the NLD to join its ticket as a candidate for the Lower House in a general election to be held on Nov. 8. When the party disclosed the majority of its selected candidates last week, however, her name was not on the list.

The omission—as well as that of more than a dozen members of the 88 Generation pro-democracy movement, with which the NLD has long been ideologically associated—shocked political observers and prospective candidates alike, many of whom were confident that they would get the party nod.

Some 20 members have since resigned from the party, claiming the selection criteria was flawed, while a number o others have filed formal complaints.

Party spokesman Nyan Win has publicly defended the selection process, telling The Irrawaddy earlier this week that Nyo Nyo Thin, as well as veteran activist Ko Ko Gyi “were taken into consideration on fair grounds like other NLD members.”

The spokesman declined to state the reasons for their exclusion, rather unhelpfully adding that “they are not on the list because they were not selected.”

Ko Ko Gyi has thus far been silent on the issue, telling The Irrawaddy on Tuesday: “I have no comment. Just ask those who are responsible.”

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Nyo Nyo Thin said she received “no explanation” for the sudden change of tack, but she now plans to contest a seat in the Lower House for Rangoon’s Bahan Township as an independent.

“I need to be in Parliament to keep things going,” she said, referring to her work as a divisional lawmaker known as a powerful voice of opposition. During her five years in the legislature, Nyo Nyo Thin never failed to question the divisional government on controversial issues—notably a divisive Rangoon City Expansion Plan and now-defunct developments near the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Despite her plan to run against the party in her home township, Nyo Nyo Thin said she will still support the NLD elsewhere.

“I will keep supporting the NLD,” she said, “as they are the one we can rely on, at least.”

Additional Reporting: Khin Oo Tha.