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FRANCE 24, THE GUARDIAN (UK), AFP

Worldcrunch

RANGOON – In a milestone for the fledgling Burmese transition away from its longtime military autocracy, the first party conference for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy’s (NLD) opened Friday.

After decades of oppression under strict military dictatorship, leaders of the longtime opposition, are set to meet publicly for the first time to set out future policy in the country now known as Myanmar, though still referred to by many as Burma. Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who had spent years under house arrest, is expected to be reappointed head of party two years before slated legislative elections.

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Aung San Suu Kyi, from Wikipedia

The process starts with a committee of 120 members who will elect a high executive panel of 15 people. Political analysts remain cautious towards the party’s ability to govern Myanmar: "The NLD will need to build capacity within the organization if they become the next government. I don't think they have anyone capable of running this show," said a Burmese political analyst quoted by France 24.

As a matter of fact, most party members, the “Uncles,” are in their 80s and 90s and tend to rule out the ideas of the younger people given influence, according to a US diplomatic cable from 2008, relayed by the Guardian: “The way the Uncles run the NLD indicates the party is not the last great hope for democracy and Burma. The party is strictly hierarchical, new ideas are not solicited or encouraged from younger members and the Uncles regularly expel members they believe are "too active.""

Suu Kyi’s challenge over the course of the three-day conference is to use it as a spark for renewal of the party.

She can count on support from at least one fellow Nobel laureate who knows something about a country transitioning to real democracy. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has arrived to attend the conference as an observer.

“It is wonderful to be here and to see her," Tutu said, as quoted by the AFP. "The potential of this country is immense and we want to see the potential fully realized.”

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