Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has postponed a trip to central Myanmar because she could not obtain permission to hold a political gathering at a soccer stadium, a party official said on Thursday.
Ohn Kyaing, a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, said she would reschedule the trip to Mandalay, which had been scheduled for this weekend.
The failure to receive Election Commission permission strikes a sour note in the reconciliation process under the reforms of the elected, but military-backed government of Burmese President Thein Sein. Aung San Suu Kyi is leading a group of her party’s candidates contesting 48 parliamentary seats in an April 1 by-election.
Thein Sein’s democratic reforms after decades of military repression have drawn praise from Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as from previously critical Western nations.
Aung San Suu Kyi last week made a political trip to the southern city of Dawei, where she received an enthusiastic welcome from thousands of people.
The party submitted a request 10 days ahead of time for permission to use Bahtoo Stadium for a speech because a large crowd was expected, Ohn Kyaing said. The law requires that applications be made at least seven days in advance.
Ohn Kyaing, who will run for one of the 10 seats in the Mandalay region in the polls, said the NLD asked the soccer authorities for use of the stadium, but that the soccer federation said Mandalay’s Election Commission must first approve the request.
However, the Election Commission said the NLD needed to obtain permission from the soccer federation first.
“We are a bit saddened with the inconvenience,” Ohn Kyaing said.
NLD leaders then sought permission to use an open field under the administration of the Ministry of Sports, but no approval was given by Thursday evening, so the party decided to cancel Aung San Suu Kyi’s planned trip.