The Irrawaddy

Suu Kyi Denounces ‘Just for Show’ 12-Party Charter Talks

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the National League for Democracy party’s fourth Central Executive Committee meeting on Saturday. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected as “just for show” a proposal for 12-party talks on constitutional reform, which was put forward last week and passed by the Rangoon divisional parliament.

Speaking at the fourth meeting of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s Central Executive Committee over the weekend, Suu Kyi reiterated opposition to the multi-party dialogue, which she first conveyed last week, saying: “We utterly object the steps trying to derail fruitful talks. It is important that genuine talks are held. We don’t want talks for show at all.”

“If there are too many participants [in the talks], it will be hard to understand their views clearly. We demand four-party talks, not because we don’t want the participation of many players, not because we want to restrict [dialogue], but because we want talks to be effective and pragmatic,” said Suu Kyi, who serves as chairwoman of the NLD.

The opposition leader said she would support the six-party talks proposed and passed by the Union Parliament, putting her in the same camp as the national legislature, which unanimously passed that proposal on Nov. 25.

Those talks would bring together President Thein Sein, Burma Army commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing, the speakers of both houses of Parliament, Suu Kyi and a representative of the country’s ethnic minorities.

Min Aung Hlaing has said, however, that the proposed six-party talks would not be sufficiently inclusive. Presidential spokesman Ye Htut has sent mixed messages on the matter, indicating initially that the proposal was impractical but later saying the President’s Office was “considering” it.

Karen Nationalities Minister Tun Aung Myint of the Rangoon Division government put forward a proposal on Dec. 9 to the divisional parliament, urging that “12-party talks on charter reform” be convened. The following day, his proposal was put to a vote and passed, with 99 votes in favor and nine against.

Suu Kyi has been calling for four-party talks—involving President Thein Sein, parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann, Min Aung Hlaing and herself—since last year. She said at the weekend meeting that the party would stick to its principles advocating for rule of law, internal peace and reform of the 2008 Constitution, which it adopted when it decided to contest in by-elections in 2012.

A total of 112 delegates from regional and state NLD branches attended the meeting, which focused on regional affairs and the 2015 general elections.

Suu Kyi on the weekend also warned her members against power struggles within the party.

“I’d like to warn you: I want you to understand that the NLD was founded not for you, but for the country,” she said. “To be frank, I would like to urge those who think they would gain [personal] benefits by joining the NLD to change their attitudes.”