Members of Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy must follow party rules and will be disciplined if they refuse, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Tuesday after the NLD announced that 10 members had been expelled from party ranks for publicly criticizing a list of candidates selected to run in coming national elections.
The ten, including several senior members of the NLD’s Pakokku District party office, had taken part in a public rally on Aug. 7 opposing the candidates selected by NLD leaders and were quickly removed from party rolls, according to local media sources.
“The NLD is a political party, and we have rules,” party leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said in a meeting with residents of Shwedaung Township in Myanmar’s Bago Region on Tuesday.
“If you can’t follow these rules, you can’t work for the NLD,” she said.
“We want to work based on democratic principles, and I believe that we can do this. Of course, I don't mean that the NLD itself is flawless,” she added.
A list of 1,090 candidates endorsed by the NLD’s central executive committee, and released in early August, failed in many cases to include candidates nominated by township and divisional party branches, leading to protests and resignations by party members in Pakokku and other areas over the weekend and on Monday.
“I resigned from the party because I love it,” Pakokku Township member Dr. Kyi Min told Myanmar’s Irrawaddy newspaper on Aug. 11 .
“If Daw Aung Suu Kyi is [now] aware that something is going wrong with the party’s central executive committee thanks to our resignation, what we have done may be fruitful,” he said.
The NLD leader has meanwhile dismissed concerns over the list of candidates selected by the party, telling supporters the NLD will take “full responsibility” for the performance of candidates chosen by the party to stand in the Nov. 8 election.
“We will take full responsibility for their deeds, good or bad,” she told supporters on Sunday during a tour of Myanmar’s flood-ravaged Magway Division.
“The responsibility of the people is simply to vote for the party, not the name of the candidate.”
Addressing reports on Tuesday that government workers in at least one township are being told they must vote for the military-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Aung San Suu Kyi said “This is against the law. Nobody should do this.”
"You should vote only for the party you want on election day," she said, adding, “We have a lot of political parties now, and votes may end up being split among them."
“This would allow the party that emerged from the [former military] dictatorship to win,” she said.
Reported by Kyaw Zar Win and Zarni Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Richard Finney.