Shan parties form league ahead of by-election
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.