- Special Pages
YANGON: Aung San Suu Kyi was re-elected as Myanmar opposition chief yesterday at a landmark congress that disappointed some members hoping for new blood in the wider leadership ahead of a key
Hundreds of National League for Democracy (NLD) members gathered in Yangon for their first national conference — a display of political strength that would have been unthinkable under the former junta.
The meeting highlighted the myriad challenges facing the hugely popular opposition, including its lack of experience as well as party infighting, as it eyes victory in key elections due to be held in 2015.
“We have to seize the chance,” Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner who entered parliament last year, urged the estimated 850 representatives who attended the three days of talks.
“I thank the members who struggled hand-in-hand with the NLD for 25 years, and I also welcome our new members,” she said. “A party can be energetic if it’s refreshed with new blood all the time.”
The party had faced calls among younger members to rejuvenate its leadership, dominated by elderly activists including some in their 80s and 90s known as the “NLD uncles”.
But it held back from a substantial revamp, instead selecting older veteran party members for a core executive of 15 and unanimously reappointing Suu Kyi as chairwoman.
“We are not completely satisfied. We accept their decision and we will support it. But we do want more new blood among the leadership,” said an NLD youth member who asked not to be named.
“We want to see people in their 40s and 50s who are educated and have experience in politics being more involved.”
NLD spokesman Han Tha Myint said the party recognised the need to gradually promote younger activists.
“That’s our main concern — most of our senior leaders are getting old,” he said.
“That’s why we have decided that the capacity of our youth must be built up and we must recruit some competent people from outside.”
After being sidelined by Myanmar’s military rulers for two decades, the NLD entered the political mainstream last year as a result of sweeping reforms initiated by a new reformist