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Political Groups Prepare for Election

Originally appeared in The Irrawaddy

March 10, 2010

Burmese political groups are preparing to register to contest the 2010 election following the release of the junta’s election and parties registration law, group leaders said on Wednesday.

Shwe Ohn, a veteran ethnic Shan politician, said he will begin political activities to form his own party and register.

Now in his late 80s, he founded the Shan State People’s Freedom League for Democracy after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, which was disbanded by the ruling military government.

Another politician, Aye Lwin, the chairman of the Union of Myanmar National Political Force, said, “In order to participate in the 2010 election, we have called our CEC members for a meeting tomorrow. We’ll discuss party registration at the meeting.

“If the government allows all political parties, the election will be an inclusive one,” Aye Lwin said.

Aye Lwin, 46, has been criticized for having close ties with high-ranking military generals and for receiving financial support from them. He organized his own political group in 2005.

The Democratic Party, which was founded late last year, has been organizing and will register soon. A leading member, Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, said, “We’ve decided to participate. First, we’ll have a discussion with people who have agreed to take part in the election.”

The Democratic Party is lead by Thu Wai, who was jailed in 1990 for his political activities. His party is supported by three daughters of former Burmese political leader: Mya Than Than Nu, the daughter of Burma’s first prime minister, U Nu; Nay Yee Ba Swe, the daughter of late Prime Minister Ba Swe; and Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, the daughter of the late Deputy Prime Minister Kyaw Nyein.

While attending the 7th Conference of Burma Media Association this year in Chiang Mai, Thu Wai urged Burmese political parties and groups in exile to support the election.

Meanwhile, several influential political parties and ethnic groups, including the National League for Democracy (NLD), have not yet decided to take part in the election.

Aye Thar Aung, a leader of the Arakanese League for Democracy, said, “If the military government doesn’t amend the 2008 Constitution, we will not participate in the election. There are no rights for ethnic minority groups in the 2008 Constitution.”

In the meantime, the military government has effectively banned Aung San Su Kyi from membership in the NLD through its election registration law, according to Win Tin, a NLD party leader.

“The law directly targets Daw Aung San Su Kyi and the NLD because it said prisoners can not participate in political parties,” he said.

He said the election will not be inclusive, as called for by the international community and the UN.

The NLD and the Arakan National League for Democracy are the main political parties that took leading roles in the 1990 election. In 1990, the NLD won a landslide victory with 392 out of 485 seats in the People’s Assembly. The election results were never recognized by the military government.

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This post is in: 2010 Elections

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