By Shwe Aung
Opposition candidate Aung San Suu Kyi says she will not be voting in the coming by-elections in Burma as frenetic campaigning for a parliamentary seat takes precedence over registering her name.
The National League for Democracy leader is scheduled to visit the northern Shan town of Lashio tomorrow after canvassing in Rangoon. Party spokesperson Nyan Win said the Nobel laureate would have liked to cast a vote but did not have time to register on a householder list, a pre-condition for doing so.
With just over a fortnight to go before the polls, NLD candidates have been busy drumming up support across the country. The party is believed to be fielding 47 candidates out of a possible 48 vacant seats in parliament.
Running for the NLD in Lashio is Sai Myint Maung, but as with other candidates, having Suu Kyi at his side when he addresses thousands of supporters on Saturday will boost his chances of success on 1 April.
“Recently, we went to campaign in local villages around Lashio,” he told DVB. “Village people are not like they were before – now they are well informed about their country’s situation thanks to the media breakthrough, so they all know Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, including kids and elders, and they are eager to greet her.”
While to many outsiders the notion that Suu Kyi is unknown to some Burmese may appear surprising, it is only in the past six months that media has been able to publish lengthy pieces on the revered pro-democracy leader.
“Residents in one village said they were making arrangements to come [and greet Suu Kyi] and will bring their music instruments.”
Suu Kyi will stay in Lashio for one night and then head to Hsenwi town around 30 miles north of Lashio. There she will visit the family of Sai Aung Hla, a member of the NLD who remains in prison, and pay homage to monks.
She has not visited Shan state since 2002, prior to a seven-year spell under house arrest.