The Irrawaddy Burma Election 2010

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NLD Faces Problems Reopening Offices

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With many offices closed since 2003, the NLD finds that nothing remains to be reopened in some townships.

The news that the offices of National League for Democracy can be reopened should be a happy one for its members. But Aye Kyu, vice chairman of the NLD office in Laputta Township, didn't feel content.

“Though we are allowed to reopen our offices, I am not very happy because we have no leader,” Aye Kyu told The Irrawaddy on Thursday, referring to party leader Aung San Suu Kyi who remains under house arrest. 

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On Thursday morning, local authorities summoned Aye Kyu to tell him he can reopen the NLD office in Laputta, Irrawaddy Division. He went there with his NLD members.

But Aye Kyu has a more immediate problem than his feelings for Suu Kyi since the house where the office was located has been sold. He said he and his colleagues have started looking for a new office, preferably in a good location downtown.

Many NLD offices started being active on Thursday morning after they got permission to reopen the previous night.

Government authorities in relevant townships are arranging for the NLD offices in townships in Burma to reopen after Dr. Than Nyein, the coordinator of Rangoon Division's NLD, was informed by  authorities that NLD offices banned from operating in Rangoon and Mandalay can be reopened.

The permission came two days after the ruling junta started issuing election laws on March 9 (announced on March 8). Ironically, the laws ban Suu Kyi from being a member of the party and contesting the upcoming elections as she has been convicted and under detention.
Many NLD branch offices across the country had been closed after the junta organized an ambush on Suu Kyi's motorcade in which several dozen NLD supporters were killed in Depayin in upper Burma in 2003.

Unable to open for seven years, most NLD offices  have been damaged by weather. Some offices can no longer be used as landlords have sold the property, according to NLD members in the townships.

“We saw bats' nests in our old office as soon as we reopened it,” said Myint Thein of Chauk NLD. “The wooden floor had been eaten by termites so I doubt they ignored the documents.”

The wooden floor in the old NLD branch office was broken and had collapsed due to leaks in the roof, he said.

There are also problems between the NLD as tenants and landlords as all the old branch offices are being opened around the country.

“Our landlord told us he had demolished our office and sold the remains off in February,” said Thein Hlaing, the vice secretary for NLD party activities in Sittwe in Arakan State, adding that they are 
preparing to make a legal claim against the State Commission responsible in the case.

The government began publishing the election laws daily in state newspapers, and on Thursday they abrogated the 1990 election laws.

Nyan Win, the spokesperson for the NLD headquarters said the new election law targets the NLD but then the authorities let it reopen its offices, adding that the authorities' actions seemed contrary.

Aye Kyu, meanwhile, said he is determined to carry out his responsibility under any circumstances. He said he will quickly find a place to reopen the office.



Nyan_win80"Once her [Aung San Suu Kyi's] sentence expires in November, and that notion is not disputed, it is our understanding that she will have served her sentence."
—Nyan Win, the foreign minister of Burma


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