Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese government is throwing up obstacles to prevent the National League for Democracy (NLD) from booking sports stadiums for campaign rallies by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
NLD campaign manager Nyan Win told a press conference on Monday in Rangoon that government sports minister Tint San is disrupting the NLD electoral campaign because the ministry will not allow access to book football stadiums, which are necessary to hold the large crowds that Suu Kyi attracts wherever she campaigns.
Government officials have repeatedly claimed that the April 1 by-election would be free and fair, a specific requirement sought by the international community prior to removing sanctions on the military-dominated government which says it is moving toward democracy. The NLD party is contesting for 48 seats in the by-election, and Suu Kyi said she plans to campaign across the country.
NLD spokesperson Ohn Kyaing said Suu Kyi wanted to deliver a speech at Pyapon Stadium in Irrawaddy Region on February 17, but the Sports Ministry would not make the stadium available and she was forced to deliver her speech at Thelgwin on the outskirts of Pyapon.
Talking about the ministry’s actions, Suu Kyi said in her speech in Thelgwin that such actions will damage the government’s credibility, especially with the international community which is carefully monitoring the by-election campaign.
The ministry also sent the NLD a letter rejecting its request to speak on February 15 at the Hlegu Football Stadium in Rangoon Region. Suu Kyi was permitted to use the stadium after the Union Election Commission (UEC) mediated between the two sides. A similar case involved Suu Kyi’s trip to Pathein in Irrawaddy Region in the first week of February, Ohn Kyaing told Mizzima.
On February 4, Suu Kyi was forced to postpone her planned campaign trip to Mandalay because the authorities said the Myanmar Football Federation refused to rent the Bahtoo football stadium for a speech.
The NLD applied on February 17 to the Mandalay Region Sports Department to use the stadium located near Mandalay Mountain, but the authorities did not reply, said Myo Naing, an NLD official from Mandalay Region.
The UEC has been informed about the issue, but so far it has not taken any preventive action, said Ohn Kyaing.
Minister Tint San is the owner of A.C.E Construction Company. In the 2010 general elections, he won a Lower House seat in Myaungmya Township as a Union Solidarity and Development Party candidate. In March 2011, he resigned to become Minister of Hotels and Tourism and Sports Minister.
In the April 1 by-election, Dr. Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, a son of Minister Tint San, is a candidate for a seat in the Myaungmya Township constituency. The NLD candidate is Mann Johnny.
Meanwhile, at the NLD press conference on Monday, Nyan Win said Upper House MP Dr. Myat Nyar Na Soe has resigned from the National Democratic Force to become an NLD member.