Fresh Obstacles for NLD Campaign

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is unable to get venues for campaign rallies.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is facing election campaign restrictions despite an assurance by the Burmese authorities that there would be no such hurdles ahead of the April 1 by-elections.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD), which is contesting all 48 parliamentary seats at stake in the election, is unable to get venues for her to hold campaign rallies as the battle with the ruling parties heats up ahead of the polling date, NLD officials told RFA.
Last month, the party faced similar problems but the Union Election Commission lifted a ban of the use of certain venues for rallies ahead of the elections, seen as a test of President Thein Sein's government's commitment to reform.
Win Htein, the NLD candidate for the Meikhtila seat in Mandalay, said the district office of the Elections Commission has informed the party that the Independence Grounds "cannot be allowed" for Aung San Suu Kyi to hold her campaign rally on March 5.
"NLD has now asked for permission to use Aung Mingala Grounds for the rally," he told RFA.
Similarly, the southern Mon state election commission office has also refused Aung San Suu Kyi permission to use the Thanlwin Park for her campaign speech on March 11.
An NLD offical in Moulmein, the Mon state capital, told RFA, "The Commission notified us that the park would be going through the initial work for renovation during that period and thus could not be used for the rally."
Capital hurdles
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is running in elections for the first time, has also been denied access to venues for her campaign rallies in two of four townships in the Burmese capital Naypyidaw where she planned to speak on March 6, according to reports.
The Nobel laureate had planned to deliver speeches in Dekkhina Thiri, Ottara Thiri, Zabu Thiri and Pobba Thiri townships but was denied permission in two of the townships, NLD campaign secretary Nyan Win told exile Mizzima News Agency.
The NLD failed to get permission to hold its rallies in Pobba Thiri Township and Zabu Thiri townships, the agency said.
Candidate Zay Yar Thaw said that earlier the NLD had made arrangements for Aung San Suu Kyi to deliver a speech on what he described as “farmland” in the Pobba Thiri Township but on February 29, the District Election Commission informed the township administrative office that it objected to the planned location of the rally.

“That means they [the township] cannot give permission,” he said.
“The letter from the township administrative office said that the location is near a monastery and also near a school,” Zay Yar Thaw said, adding that the party would appeal against the decision.
The NLD had boycotted Burma's general election in November 2010 but agreed to rejoin the electoral process after the military-backed government began implementing a series of democratic reforms.
Even if the NLD wins all 48 seats, the government will still have a commanding majority in parliament but foreign governments are closely watching the conduct of the election before deciding whether long-running sanctions on the country will be lifted.
A nominally civilian government replaced decades of harsh military rule following the 2010 elections.
The NLD scored a landslide victory in 1990 elections but the military junta then did not allow the party to take office.
Reported by RFA's Burmese service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.