Monday, 09 December 2019

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UDP still unsure whether to stand in polls: new chief

Rangoon (Mizzima) - Union Democratic Party new chairman Thein Htay declared yesterday the party may be at risk if it chose to take part in the forthcoming election and expressed doubts as to whether it would stand.

His comments came on Sunday as the Shin Ardatesawuntha Monastery held a   commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of the “8888” nationwide pro-democracy uprising. The former UDP chairman Phyo Min Thein pulled out of the junta’s elections and quit the party as he believed the elections would be neither free nor fair.

“I’ve held the post of chairman since August 5. But I still have contact with the former chairman. The forthcoming elections may be neither free nor fair”, Thein Htay said. “But nevertheless, we will claim our rights. We will try as hard as we can.”

“The party has become insecure and we may encounter some problems, so we haven’t decided whether the party will contest in the elections or not”, he added.

He expressed concerns the authorities would attack the party over its history of criticising the electoral laws as one-sided. “I don’t want to oppose the elections. But, I want them to be free and fair … supported by just laws”, he said.

Before Phyo Min Thein quit the party, Thein Htay was second vice-chairman.

Although the party had no internal conflict, Phyo Min Thein decided to step away from the party based on his dislike of the actions of the electoral commission, and what he pointed out was junta bias towards the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which emerged from the junta’s now-defunct and often violent nationalist social organisation, the Union Solidarity and Development Association.

Phyo Min Thein also said that he doubted that the junta would fulfil the criteria of holding free and fair elections, which would include he said: allowing all people to participate in the politics freely; releasing all political prisoners to let them participate; and permitting all political parties to conduct their electoral campaigns freely.

Thein Htay said that the party would publish its journal, The Union, to carry its message to the public, the first issue of which was published on July 27. It was obtainable at bookshops across Rangoon but rumours have recently circulated in the former Burmese capital that the next issue would be banned, and even the party itself was unsure of whether it could be published.

The party was granted permission to register as a political party on May 26, and its patron is prominent politician Shwe Ohn.

The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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