Main Myanmar opposition party sees changes, but Suu Kyi stays on as head
AP and AFPYANGON, Myanmar -- Aung San Suu Kyi was selected Sunday to remain head of Myanmar's main opposition party, keeping her leadership post even as the party undergoes a makeover to adjust to the country's new democratic framework.
March 11, 2013, 12:10 am TWN
The Nobel laureate was named chairwoman of the National League for Democracy's (NLD) new executive board on the final day of a landmark three-day party congress attended by 894 delegates from around the country.
The congress also expanded the group's Central Executive Committee (CEC) from seven members to 15, in a revitalization and reform effort ahead of Myanmar's 2015 general election. The party is seeking to infuse its ranks with new faces, expertise and diversity without sidelining long-standing members.
“We have to see how effectively and efficiently the new leaders can perform their duties,” said Suu Kyi, who has led the NLD since its inception in 1988. “We hope they will learn through experience.”
Suu Kyi is the sole holdover from the party's original executive board when it was founded, but the other new members are also mostly long-serving party loyalists. A broader Central Committee of 120 members was elected by the delegates and endorsed the executive board, which was given five reserve members.
Emerging from repression that limited its actions — not least because Suu Kyi and other senior NLD members spent years under detention — Suu Kyi vowed in her opening speech Saturday to inject the party with “new blood” and decentralize decision-making.
She said the NLD would go through an experimental stage with the new leadership and should anticipate some obstacles but “not be discouraged.”
Speaking to the party meeting after her selection as chairman on Sunday, Suu Kyi said that in choosing executive board members there was an effort to include women, members of ethnic minorities and younger people, in addition to members with a record of continuous party service. Four women and several ethnic minority members are on the new board.
“We have to seize the chance,” Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner who entered parliament last year, urged the estimated 850 representatives who attended the three days of talks.
“I thank the members who struggled hand-in-hand with the NLD for 25 years, and I also welcome our new members,” she said. “A party can be energetic if it's refreshed with new blood all the time.”
Suu Kyi acknowledged to reporters that younger members were underrepresented on the Central Executive Committee compared to the bigger Central Committee.
“We need experienced members who know the policies, tradition and history of the party and who had been in the party for the last 25 years,” said Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest. “After some time, the younger generation will take over their place. There should be connectivity between the past, present and future.”
Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to the media at a press conference during the National League for Democracy's first ever party conference at the Royal Rose Hall in Yangon, Myanmar on ...