Myanmar opposition complains of campaign restrictions | News | DW | 20.02.2012
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Myanmar opposition complains of campaign restrictions

The opposition party of Aung San Suu Kyi says it faces restrictions campaigning for by-elections, which might make the polls "unfair." The allegations could damage confidence in government democratization efforts.

The party of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has complained of restrictions in campaigning for upcoming by-elections.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) said the limitations risked making the April 1 polls unfair.

"We are facing many difficulties in our campaign," party spokesman Nyan Win told a news conference. "If this situation doesn't change, we will not believe the coming election is fair."

Nyan said some government organizations had blocked the party's campaign activities despite approval by the state Union Election Commission. These included refusal to allow the NLD to congregate on football fields in three constituencies and barring the party from meeting in a village on security grounds.

Democratic reforms

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Suu Kyi is running for one of 48 parliamentary seats in the by-election. If she is successful, it will be the first time the de facto figurehead of the repressed Myanmar democracy movement has held a place in parliament.

The NLD won a 1990 general election but were refused power by the military junta that then ruled Myanmar. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest ahead of the polls and the party underwent a lengthy period of repression.

The party boycotted general elections in 2010 because it felt rules were unfair.

A military-backed nominally civilian government won those polls and has since taken meaningful steps toward democratizing the country, reengaging with the international community and freeing political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

Dissident monk detained

Meanwhile, a leading dissident Buddhist monk who helped lead anti-government protests in 2007 is facing new legal action. It has been alleged he broke into several monasteries that had been shuttered by the junta following the failed uprising five years ago.

Shin Gambira was detained following those protests up until January 13 this year. His freedom came as part of the mass prisoner amnesties offered by the government.

dfm/slk (AP, AFP)