Burma Times Correspondent: September 01, 2015
The opposition NLD has succumbed to pressure by the Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha not to field any Muslim candidates in the upcoming general election.
The claim was made by Ko Ni, a prominent NLD member and a well known lawyer speaking to The Irrawaddy.
“There are no Muslim candidates,” Ko Ni told The Irrawaddy. “Around 15-16 Muslim people applied to be candidates but the central committee did not choose them.”
Ko Ni also said the cancellation of the Muslim names was an attempt to placate the powerful Buddhist nationalist lobby whose influence has steadily increased in recent years. The decision of the NLD has disappointed Muslim supporters who traditionally relied on the party to speak up for minority groups in this fractured country.
Ko Ni stressed that he was not speaking from his official capacity as a party man.
Aung Saan Suu Kyi, chairperson of the NLD and an internationally respected politician has drawn ire over recent years for failing to stand up for the rights of Muslims, especially in the Arakan state.
Sympathisers point out that anti Muslim sentiment is so strong among the vast majority of society that NLD risks isolating itself by speaking out for the oppressed community.
Other Muslim leaders including those whose candidacy were rejected by the NLD also spoke of their frustrations to The Irrawaddy. One of them is Sitha Maung, a former political prisoner. “I don’t want to comment directly, but I can say that there were no Muslim candidates selected by the NLD,” Sithu Maung told The Irrawaddy.
Myo Win of the Burmese Muslim Association said that ninety percent of the Muslim population was frustrated with the NLD.