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Row at ethnic Karen party over ‘sacking’ of chairman

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Union Karen League leaders and a journal have become embroiled in a dispute over a report that the party’s vice-chairman had sacked the chairman, with other leaders disputing the claim and saying he had acted alone and without their consent, sources said.

senate_in_naypyidaw1ssThe row boiled over after Seven Days News in its No. 21 issue of Volume Nine carried the headline: “CEC sacks Union Karen League chairman”.

Party leaders rejected the claim and the basis of the report. “We have reached no such decision on chairman Saw Maung Chaw’, party secretary Man Thein Win Shwe told Mizzima, using the Karen honorific of “Saw”.

Central executive committee member and party organiser Hnin Phyu confirmed that standpoint, saying: “The news of the sacking of chairman Saw Maung Chaw is not untrue.”

The journal reported that Maung Chaw was expelled from the party at its central executive committee meeting on July 2 and that he himself had tendered his resignation as party chairman (acting) and functionary the following day.

Moreover, the journal also reported that his removal was communicated to the junta’s electoral watchdog, the Union Election Commission, and that the decision to remove him had been made by eight central executive committee (CEC) members.

“There is a news release from this party signed by the vice-chairman and dated July 7 this month [giving his name] as the new chairman,” an editor from the journal told Mizzima.

The party secretary rejected this claim also: “This decision was not made by the entire 15-member CEC, but was made unilaterally, which is against party procedures and rules,” Man Thein Win Shwe said. “We will tell Seven Days News to publish a correction.”

“We lodged a complaint with vice-chairman Saw Than Aung at the party’s family meeting held today on this case and told him we disapprove of this decision. He replied that he had made this decision with his feeling,” he added.

Most of the central executive committee members live in the States and had only become aware of the event when it appeared in the journal. Some party members said the reason for releasing this news might be an intra-party rift.

“I was aware of this news only when it appeared in journal. The vice-chairman is getting old and he might have said it either ramblingly or hurriedly,” party chairman Maung Chaw told Mizzima.

The central executive committee will release a press statement after holding a fresh meeting on the issue, a party source told Mizzima.

Than Aung was unavailable for comment.

The party’s top committee was preoccupied with compiling membership lists of at least 1,000, the minimum requirement for a national party as per the junta’s electoral law. The deadline for submitting this list was August 21, when the 90 days permitted by electoral law would expire, Man Thein Win Shwe said.

“We have collected more than 1,000 party memberships, but we can’t submit this list yet as some of the applications are not yet signed by our party members”, he said.

The Union Karen League has a relatively long history in Burmese politics, having taken part in the 1990 general elections. It is one of the five established parties that have registered with the election commission out of 10 established parties. The EC granted registration for this party on May 21, awarding it the number 11.

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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