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Suu Kyi campaigns in the generals’ backyard


(Mizzima) – On her fourth straight day of campaigning, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi asked supporters on Tuesday to vote for candidates in the bastion of Burma’s government, Naypyitaw. Four NLD candidates in Naypyitaw are seeking seats in Parliament.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi continues to campaign hard for the fourth straight day, delivering a speech on Tuesday, March 6, in Pobba Thiri Township in Naypyitaw, where about 20,000 people gathered to hear her speak.  The NLD candidate in the Pobba Thiri Township is hip hop singer Zay Yar Thaw. Photo: Mizzima
The outcome could be interesting. While Naypyitaw is made up of government officials and the bureaucracy, it also has a large number of laborers and rural poor, who flocked to Suu Kyi’s two rallies on Tuesday. The NLD had been conducting intensive voter registration drives, but no one knows the results of last-minute voter registration.

In one speech, Suu Kyi joked that she took “a risk” campaigning under the generals’ noses.

“I don't mean taking a risk coming here by road, but spiritually we took our risk,” she said, according to an article by Agence France Press. "By believing in people's spirit to move in the right direction, we asked our candidates to come and compete here.”

NLD candidates in the capital include a popular hip-hop singer, Zay Yar Thaw, who is a former political prisoner freed in 2011 after serving three years for co-founding a youth activist group. He is contesting the seat in Pobba Thiri constituency vacated by the Tin Aung Myint Oo, who became vice president.

“I became an activist basically because as a young person, I wanted to stand against injustice and unfairness,” an Associated Press article quoted him as saying. “I decided to become a politician when I realized that my actions as an activist could not bring about sufficient and effective results. I decided that if I want to seriously engage in politics, I should join a political party and then become a politician.”

Naypyitaw is the headquarters of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. All four NLD candidates in Naypyitaw are former political activists. Two of them were released from prison in an amnesty in January.

NLD candidate Sandar Min, 44, a former student activist, is running for the Lower House seat from Zabu Thiri constituency vacated by President Thein Sein, who has embraced Suu Kyi’s entry into politics as good for the country.

Zay Yar Thaw and Sandar Min said at least three NLD candidates in Naypyitaw have experienced various problems during canvassing, such as being barred from the use of some venues for mass meetings and having party signboards damaged, according to the AP.

Some villagers who attended her meetings were harassed by local authorities, said Sandar Min. She said an estimated 37,000 of about 43,000 eligible voters in Zabu Thiri are civil servants.

“I am surprised to see such a large crowd here,” said Suu Kyi. “I am encouraged and you have raised my hopes.”

In a 30-minute speech in Pobba Thiri township, Suu Kyi cited her father, General Aung San, and said the NLD isn't against the military.

“I welcome the tatmadaw [the military] and I want to say that our party, the NLD, is not an organization that will confront the tatmadaw,” she said, according to the AP. She invited soldiers to attend NLD rallies.

She noted that the NLD has had problems in recent weeks getting the government to authorize appropriate speaking venues, forcing it to hold gatherings in dirt fields.

“Using such despicable means against our party tarnishes the image of the country, and it is very bad to use unfair and ignoble means of campaigning,” she was quoted as saying.

Observers with Suu Kyi's caravan noted that the roads in Naypyitaw were not lined with NLD supporters. The supporters who attended her rallies generally lived close to the venues, which were at least 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the areas where most civil servants live.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 March 2012 20:00 )  
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