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Nov-13-2012 10:44printcomments

Suu Kyi Accused of Being 'Too Authoritarian'

The party of Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Suu Kyi, has been accused of being too authoritarian, as Pro-Democracy activists quit.

Aun Aan Suu Kyi
The Fresh Outlook

(WASHINGTON DC The Fresh Outlook) - Around one hundred and thirty members of the National League for Democracy party have resigned, with hundreds more threatening to follow. Breakaway members have established their own political organisation – a group called Democracy Network – focused on helping the local community. While these complaints do not stem from a direct dispute with Ms Suu Kyi, members are increasingly criticising her failure to curb the autocratic behaviour of the other leaders.

She has transitioned from an idolised pro-democracy campaigner, who spent almost fifteen of the past twenty-one years under house arrest, to an active opposition politician for the NLD party when she was elected to parliament in April. Favourable media coverage, for a woman perceived to have given her life to the cause, has largely masked the growing dissent in her party. However, the slew of resignations was triggered by anger surrounding the selection processes for new delegates. Last month three long-term party members accused party leaders of “undemocratic practices” in selecting new delegates. The central executive committee responded by dismissing all three and closing the local NLD headquarters, prompting further internal revolt.

Many established party members feel betrayed by the NLD, as they attempt to build ranks of new, younger members. Following years of military repression, the party found it difficult to recruit delegates and so was represented largely by older individuals – Ms Suu Kyi, for example, is almost seventy. However, since the relaxing of political authority, and Suu’s successes, many young people have been attracted to the NLD and leaders are seen to be promoting the election of these new recruits in an attempt to secure the party’s future.

Suu Kyi dismissed these complainants as “self-interested people”, and an official party spokesperson has assured the Burmese public that the delegate positions were being assigned to “the people who are the most capable”.

Aung Naing Oo, deputy director of the Vahu Institute, has claimed that authoritarianism is endemic in the Burmese political system, blaming the approach on attitudes engendered by years under a military Junta: “In authoritarian polity, both the opposition and incumbent government share some similar traits – top-down inflexibility – though they are politically at different ends of the spectrum”.

A Fresh Outlook…

As the party who championed those suffering a lack of political freedom, the National League for Democracy needs to ensure that favouritism and high handedness do not infect their ranks. It is especially important that the NLD makes a show of unity in the coming years; analysts believe that the party, which currently holds 43 seats, could sweep the 2015. The discordant individuals should focus on their shared objective – finally overcoming the military regime that has controlled Burma for decades, and bringing democracy to the people.

By Kate Holvey

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