Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Burma’s NLD to let five 88-student activists run as candidates

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – 88-generation student activists say the National League for Democracy (NLD) has agreed that if they join the NLD, they can run in five constituencies in the coming by-election under the NLD banner.

Phyo Min Thein, an 88-generation student group leader.Phyo Min Thein, one of the student group’s leaders, said that Aung San Suu Kyi told him on Friday that the NLD would let the students contest in the elections as NLD-backed candidates.

"The NLD will let five students be NLD candidates––from 88-generation students to current generation students," Phyo Min Thein said.

Phyo Min Thein formed a political party, the Union Democratic Party (UDP), prior to the 2010 general election and served as the UDP chairman. He resigned from the party before the election, saying it would not be free and fair. He has decided to join the NLD, but it's early to say whether he will stand as an NLD candidate, he said.

The NLD has invited various political groups to a meeting at Sayadaw Ashin Pyinnyathiha's Monastery (Shwenyawa) in Kyimyindaing Township in Rangoon on Thursday, where prospective candidates must declare their names.  

Meanwhile, a member of the 88-generation students group said they want to organize a social organization. Many group members are still in prison, and the group doesn't want to form a political party at the present time.  

"That does not mean we oppose forming political parties and the general lection. We accept it as a step. But, some political prisoners have not been released and our country has not established peace––that's why we don't want to contest in the elections," said Ko Ko Gyi (Sanchaung), who was released from Buthidaung Prison on October 12.   

The 88-generation students group was formed in 2005. In 2007, many of its leaders were arrested and the remaining members went underground.

"We want to transform our group from underground into a legal organization. We may open a legal office and offer training classes. And we will hold legal meetings," said Ko Ko Gyi (Sanchaung).

Eleven of the 37 political prisoners who are 88-generation students group members were released under the presidential amnesty on October 12.

Meanwhile, former political prisoners including the comedian Zarganar will sign a letter urging the U.S. government to put presssure on Burmese leaders to release political prisoners, stop the ethnic civil war and release all political prisoners. The letter will be delivered to the U.S. embassy to coincide with the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  

According to figures compiled by Ko Ko Gyi, there are 1,028 political prisoners. The government and the NLD say the number is around 500.  

The Election Commission has not yet announced the date of by-election. Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann said in a press conference on Friday in Naypyitaw that the by-elections would not be held until sometime after February.

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