National League for Democracy members in Mandalay Region’s Myingyan township demonstrated outside a party office last week calling for the results of “unfair and undemocratic” ward assemblies be annulled ahead of a township meeting on January 27.
The unrest over the process of selecting delegates for the upcoming national assembly also appeared likely to spread further, with members from three other townships in Mandalay waiting for permission to protest together outside a party office.
About 1000 members from Myingyan township protested outside the office in No 6 ward on January 24, calling on party leaders to annul the results of recent ward assemblies and to ensure fairness and democracy within the party.
“We are not against the party … we are just against those in the party who use undemocratic methods. The regional assembly commission confirmed the result of ward assemblies that were unfair and undemocratic. We are all angry at the regional assembly commission. The township assembly is going to be held on January 27 and we object to it and will continue our protest until that day,” party member Dr Win Naing told The Myanmar Times on January 24.
He said members from three other townships are also preparing to protest in Mandalay and if they get permission the Myingyan group will join them for the demonstration.
Member U Ko Ko Naing from Htanaungtaing village in Myingyan township said some ward assemblies were held “just on paper” and members had no chance to participate.
“We informed officials from the headquarter assembly commission about these issues but they ignored it. There are 85 villages in the township but just 68 villages held assemblies; the rest missed out. The party’s theme is fairness and peace but there is no fairness in the party,” U Ko Ko Naing said on January 24.
NLD member U Ko Ko Aung from Mandalay’s Pyigyitagun township said he had submitted a request to protest outside the regional NLD office to the police station in Chan Aye Thar San township but was still waiting for permission as of January 26.
“We submitted the proposed letter today,” he said on January 23. “But officials said that they could not allow us to use the place we requested and instead offered a space behind Mandalay Central Railway Station. They also said that they could allow only about 100 members to participate so we are not sure [when we will] be able to protest … whenever it is, we have submitted the letter and are waiting for the reply from the police. Then we will decide our plan.”
If the protest is approved, members from Myingyan, Tada Oo and Natogyi townships will demonstrate together with their counterparts from Mandalay, U Ko Ko Aung said.
“There could be about 2000 members at the protest in Mandalay if it goes ahead. We are waiting for a reply from the police station and if we don’t like their response we will discuss whether to continue with the protest. But we will continue to fight against the bad features of our party,” he said U Ko Ko Aung.
U Ko Ko Aung and six other members from Pyigyitagun township were selected as representatives for the township assembly but were then suspended by the headquarters following complaints from their defeated opponents. The township assembly was then postponed pending an investigation into the dispute.
“The main reason for the protest is that we are not pleased at those in our party who are worse than dictators. We want the top officials to know about the unfairness in the party. We met with officials at the party headquarters but they did not accept our explanation,” he said.
A spokesperson for the party’s head office was repeatedly unavailable for comment last week.
In recent weeks, residents in Maubin, Ayeyarwady Region, also protested over the preparations for the assembly, while in late 2012 hundreds of members resigned in Labutta township.
However, Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Ohn Kyaing said in an interview with 7Day News on January 10 that the conflicts represented only 5 percent of all ward assemblies and the majority had encountered few problems.