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NEWS - Feud Exposes Myanmar's ''War
- Subject: NEWS - Feud Exposes Myanmar's ''War
- From: Rangoonp@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 20:22:00
Subject: NEWS - Feud Exposes Myanmar's ''War of Attrition''
Feud Exposes Myanmar's ''War of Attrition''
BANGKOK, May 6 (Reuters) - A feud between Myanmar's
opposition and a
handful of dissidents has rekindled debate about how best
to push the ruling
generals towards democracy.
But diplomats say it is unlikely to diminish
international support for Nobel
Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for
cause the party itself to alter course.
The NLD has accused three politicians who won seats in
election win in 1990 of colluding with the military,
which annulled the poll
result, to try to split the party.
Than Tun, Tin Tun Maung and Kyi Win broke ranks with the
NLD over its
move to set up a committee to represent the parliament
elected in 1990. A
plan to assemble the parliament itself has been thwarted
by the detention of
many elected NLD candidates.
The three stated their opposition in a signed paper.
Than Tun and Kyi Win say they acted of their own free
will, but a diplomat in
Yangon quoted NLD vice chairman Tin Oo as saying that
many of the
paper's 25 signatories had said they were duped into
signing and had
withdrawn their support.
It is not the first time Than Tun has opposed the NLD
leadership on a
sensitive issue. In 1996 he became one of only two
expelled by the party after criticising its decision to
quit a constitutional
Diplomats characterised the spat as the latest act in a
long war of attrition
between the military and the opposition and said it was
likely signatories had
acted under duress.
"Whether it represents a split within the NLD, I don't
know," one said. "But it's
clear all MPs are under pressure to disengage from the
NLD. The party's
been under incredible pressure since setting up the
Official media say 26,000 NLD members have quit since the
set up last year and more than one million people have
petitions. The NLD says the government used coercion to
resignations and signatures.
"The government's been quite clever in the way it's done
all this," a
European diplomat said. "Basically it's been saying to
people, if you don't
bother us and stay quiet we'll let you stay free, but if
you do we'll put you in
Despite the obvious repression, the question now being
diplomats is whether the NLD is right to stick to its
implementation of the 1990 election result.
"Time is passing and nothing is happening," said the
first diplomat. "There
are those who argue that there has been very little
Last year the government detained hundreds of NLD members
party vowed to call a "people's parliament." Around 100
representatives remain in detention.
Some believe change could be more effectively brought
economic and political engagement rather than the
sanctions imposed by
Washington and Europe.
"There's dialogue going on with the very strange
government in North
Korea," the European diplomat said. "This is a pretty
but is it any worse than in North Korea?"
Doubters argue Suu Kyi's status as an international human
rights icon may
be part of the problem.
"She is definitely in a very difficult position," the
European diplomat said.
"She may be worried that diminishing her demands might
international status and Gandhi-esque aura and the whole
impetus of her
movement might be damaged.
"And the NLD won the election and if they do agree to be
more flexible that
would mean giving up that legally won election."
Despite the growing frustration at a lack of progress,
there is little sign
international pressure on the government is likely to
ease or that support for
Suu Kyi will diminish.
"I think it's very unlikely there will be any dilution of
international feeling. She
has some very powerful and influential supporters
overseas, in the U.S.
Congress and elsewhere, and that's not going to suddenly