Myanmar’s main opposition party on Sunday re-elected Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as its leader in preparation for the general election in 2015, party sources said.
The National League for Democracy’s new 15-member executive committee was elected by secret ballot at the party’s first congress, intended to democratise the party which has been criticised in the past for its centralised structure.
On Saturday, the 862-member congress elected a 120-person central committee that chose the executive committee.
Suu Kyi, 67, was re-elected party chairwoman, ranked first on the central executive committee, followed by Nyan Win, a close aide of hers who has been the party spokesman for decades.
The new leadership line-up includes Aung San Suu Kyi, Nyan Win, Hantha Myint, Ohn Kyine, Win Myint, Tun Tun Hein, May Win Myint, Win Htein Zaw Myint Maung, Aung Moe Nyo, Daw Khin Htay Kywe, Nan Khin Htwe Myint, Kyaw Khin, Nyi Pu, Myo Aung and auxilary members Mann Johnny, Thein Lwin, Aung Soe, Zaw Bwe and Phyu Phyu Thin.
“The same team is going to be leading the party,” said Khin Maung Shwe, chairman of the National Democratic Front, which split off from the NLD in 2010.
“These are the same old faces. Most of them are in their late 60s.” Octogenarians Tin Oo and Win Tin, the so-called “uncles” of the old central executive committee, were not re-elected.
There were hopes that the congress would lead to a younger, more dynamic leadership than the top-down structure dominated by Suu Kyi.
She has never designated a successor.
“There is no person who can take the place of Aung San Suu Kyi in the current NLD lineup,” Khin Maung Shwe said.
Suu Kyi has led the party since its inception in 1988 and come to personify Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement and struggle against decades of military rule.
Four other women were elected to the executive committee Saturday.
The NLD won the 1990 general election by a landslide, but was blocked from power by the former junta that ruled until 2010.
The party contested the April 2011 by-election, winning 43 out of the 45 contested seats, allowing the opposition leader to join parliament.