• Thu
  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 12:46pm
NewsAsia
MYANMAR

Suu Kyi's plea for unity at first party congress

Opposition leader in rallying cry to National League for Democracy ahead of 2015 elections

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 2:52pm
 

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday called for her once-banned party to unify amid concerns that internal squabbles could undermine its push for power at historic polls in 2015.

Speaking at the first congress of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Suu Kyi urged a revival of the "spirit of fraternity" which saw it build a huge base during junta rule.

But she acknowledged "there was some fighting" within the party, something analysts attribute to the reluctance of an elderly cabal of senior advisers to give way to a younger generation.

"We have to act with restraint," said the Nobel laureate, who is expected to be re-elected as party chairman once final votes are tallied today.

"The spirit of fraternity is very important. We have been strong in the past because of this spirit." Although hugely popular in Myanmar, some experts question whether the NLD is ready to run an impoverished nation whose economy, education and health systems were left in tatters by the corrupt former junta.

The party is expected to win national elections in 2015 if they are free and fair.

But experts say it must first resolve internal divisions which again flared ahead of the conference as four members were banned from attending, accused of trying to influence the voting.

Hundreds of delegates heard Suu Kyi address the issue of party chairmanship - a position she currently holds.

She urged delegates to elect a "leader who is in accord with this era, in accord with this country and the party".

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