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Renegades from Suu Kyi's party deny

Subject: Renegades from Suu Kyi's party deny splitting Myanmar opposition (AP)

Renegades from Suu Kyi's party deny splitting Myanmar opposition
May 11, 1999 
Web posted at: 2:57 AM EDT (0657 GMT) 

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Eight renegade members of Myanmar opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi's political party denied Tuesday that they are working for
military intelligence in an attempt to split the group. 

Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy have branded
them as traitors for producing a petition calling on party leaders to
reconsider policies which the renegades said have led to a standoff with the
military government. 

The controversy is a rare sign of dissent within the beleaguered opposition
in Myanmar, also known as Burma, which has been ruled by the military in
various guises since 1962. 

While the military regularly vilifies Suu Kyi in its state-run press and
public statements, challenges to the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner from
within her party are rare. 

"We submitted the proposal to perpetuate the existence of the party, and not
to destroy its unity," Tin Tun Maung, one of three party members who drafted
the petition, said at a news conference at the Yangon home of a fellow party

"We did it in the best interest of the party, with our own free will and
under the influence of nobody," he said. 

They cited in particular Suu Kyi's attempt to convene the parliament that
was elected in 1990 in a poll that the NLD won by a landslide. The three
petition drafters were elected then. 

The military government refused to honor the election. After attempts to
persuade the military to open a dialogue with her and other NLD leaders
failed, Suu Kyi said the party would convene the parliament in September of
last year. 

The military responded by detaining nearly 1,000 party members at what it
called government guest houses. It also shut down NLD offices around the
country and said that thousands of party members had voluntarily resigned.
NLD leaders said the resignations were coerced. 

Either way, Tin Tun Maung said, the resignations "don't bode well for the
future of the party." 

Of Suu Kyi, Tin Tun Maung said: "I think she wanted compromise, but those
around her were against it." 

The renegade petition was signed by 25 party members, most of whom diplomats
in Yangon said were under detention in government guest houses at the time.
The renegades said the main goals of their petition is to break the deadlock

between the party and the military. 

Hla Soe, another NLD lawmaker, said dialogue between the party and the
military could have taken place long ago if Suu Kyi and Vice Chairman Tin Oo
were content to let other NLD leaders carry it out while obeying their
instructions from the sidelines. 

"Tin Oo and Aung San Suu Kyi were expelled from the party when they were
under detention and the government does not recognize them as legal party
leaders," he said. 

Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and Tin Oo sent to Insein Prison from
1989-95 for their roles in attempting to restore democracy in Myanmar. Since
their release, party members have voted to restore them as general secretary
and vice chairman and empowered them to negotiate with the government. 

The military passed a law while the pair were under detention forbidding
political parties from enlisting new members or changing their officers.
Therefore it does not recognize Suu Kyi and Tin Oo as legally representing
the NLD. 

Neither Suu Kyi nor Tin Oo could be reached for comment. The military
government places some restrictions on their movements and discourages
journalists from contacting them. 

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.