Shan par­ties form league ahead of by-elec­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SHOON NAING

Seek­ing to unify their forces and am­plify their plat­form, eight eth­nic par­ties from Shan State have joined to­gether and launched the League for Shan State Eth­nic Par­ties ahead of the slated April 1 poll.

TAK­ING another swing at uni­fy­ing the eth­nic votes in Shan State, lo­cal par­ties have es­tab­lished the League for Shan State Eth­nic Par­ties with the goal of am­pli­fy­ing their voices.

“The LSEEP in­tends to work to­gether with any po­lit­i­cal par­ties who have the same ba­sic pur­pose and we en­cour­age the sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­ment of Shan State,” read a state­ment re­leased by the league.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from eight po­lit­i­cal par­ties were present and signed on to the state­ment on Novem­ber 3, when the league was of­fi­cially formed. Ac­cord­ing to Sao Thar Oo, the Fed­eral Union Party’s vice pres­i­dent, two ad­di­tional po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­tend to join the LSEEP but were ab­sent from the sign­ing.

“Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from two par­ties couldn’t at­tend and they will join us later on,” said Sao Thar Oo, whose party is one of the eight.

U Hla Kyaw, vice pres­i­dent No 2 of the Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties Demo­cratic Party (SNDP), told The Myan­mar Times that given Shan State’s sig­nif­i­cance in the peace process – with a ma­jor­ity of Myan­mar’s eth­nic armed forces within its bor­ders – it was im­por­tant for lo­cal po­lit­i­cal par­ties to be able to co­he­sively or­gan­ise their mes­sag­ing on im­por­tant is­sues re­lated to peace and con­flict.

Sao Thar Oo said his party had joined the league with the hope of bring­ing unity among Shan State’s many in­dige­nous eth­nic groups.

“There are many Shan eth­nic­i­ties and dif­fer­ent tribes. It will be bet­ter if ev­ery­one is united and work­ing for the pol­i­tics of Shan State, and also the pol­i­tics of Myan­mar, in the fu­ture,” he said.

U Hla Kyaw said the league’s mem­bers would con­sider co­or­di­nat­ing to avoid vote-split­ting in cer­tain con­stituen­cies in fu­ture elec­tions, in­clud­ing a by-elec­tion slated for April 1, 2017. Shan State has the most seats avail­able in the up­com­ing con­test, with eight con­stituen­cies cur­rently lack­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“We will join the elec­tion sep­a­rately but we might sep­a­rate the con­stituen­cies while we con­test. For this by-elec­tion, the Inn Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Party is the lo­cal eth­nic party for Nyaung Shwe con­stituency and we, the SNDP, will not con­test there,” he said.

He said the rea­son for divvy­ing up the elec­toral map in this way was that lo­cal par­ties were best suited to re­flect the needs of their con­stituen­cies.

Vote-split­ting was a con­cern among dozens of eth­nic po­lit­i­cal par­ties that con­tested last year’s gen­eral elec­tion, though a post-vote break­down in­di­cated that across much of the coun­try these par­ties would not have sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved their elec­toral suc­cess had they bet­ter co­or­di­nated.

The poll gave the Na­tional League for Democ­racy an over­whelm­ing man­date, but Shan State is one of two state leg­is­la­tures where the NLD failed to win a ma­jor­ity of seats.

In form­ing the league, the SNDP, the Fed­eral Union Party and the Inn Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Party were joined by the La Hu Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Party, the Inn Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion Party, the Danu Na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion Party, the Kokang Democ­racy and Unity Party and the Lisu Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Party.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear which other two par­ties had also ex­pressed an in­ten­tion to join at a later date.

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