Suu Kyi Urges Voters to Forget Candidate Controversy

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 10 August 2015

MINBU, Magwe Division — Aung San Suu Kyi has urged voters in central Burma to rally behind her National League for Democracy (NLD), downplaying internal ructions over a candidate selection process that has precipitated an open revolt among the party’s rank-and-file members.

During a tour of flood-ravaged areas in Magwe Division, the opposition leader addressed a 1,000-strong crowd in Minbu on Sunday asking for their help in securing the NLD a landslide victory in the Nov. 8 general election.

“I would like to request your vote,” she said. “I don’t want to win narrowly. I want to win in a landslide. Please, help us win a landslide.”

Despite a rapturous reception from the public, an effort to smooth over a lingering intra-party feud failed to satisfy local officials. Following a closed-door meeting between Suu Kyi and the NLD’s Magwe leadership on Sunday, the divisional joint secretary reportedly tendered his resignation.

The dispute stemmed from the candidate list released by the NLD’s central executive committee in early August, outlining contenders for nearly all the country’s parliamentary seats. In many cases, the central committee’s endorsed candidates differed from those nominated by township and divisional party branches.

Prominent democracy activists, including 88 Generation leader Ko Ko Gyi and Rangoon Division lawmaker Dr Nyo Nyo Thin, were omitted from the list despite entreaties from the party’s leadership to fight the election under the NLD banner.

Amid accusations that the central committee had failed to heed the wishes of local party offices and abide by its own selection criteria, the party has been rocked by resignations and a torrent of public criticism.

Pakkoku, 200 kilometers north of Minbu, was on Friday the subject of a public demonstration against the party leadership by disaffected local NLD members. NLD members have made public criticisms of the approved candidate list in towns across Sagaing, Magwe and Mandalay divisions.

Discussing the controversy on Sunday, Suu Kyi told the crowd at Minbu to vote for the NLD without taking into consideration the “stature” of those selected to contest the election, saying that voters were casting a ballot for the party and not individual candidates.

Arguing that the NLD had never deceived people, Suu Kyi told the crowd that her party’s ambitions were selfless.

“We want to win the election purely to serve the interests of the people,” she said.

Set on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Minbu suffered flash flooding at the beginning of August as central Burma was lashed by rains.

Suu Kyi was not initially scheduled to address the residents of Minbu on account of recent illness, relenting after locals gathered outside Man Thida Hotel, where she was lodging on Sunday evening.

On Monday morning Suu Kyi traveled to the nearby townships of Sagu, Pwintbyu, and Sidoktaya to meet with flood victims and assist in the delivery of relief supplies.