A senior Wa elder living on the Sino-Burma border recently told SHAN that the Wa Democratic Party (WDP) that has been granted permission to set up as a political party to contest the elections, ‘doesn’t represent the Wa people.’
Besides the WDP, there is another Wa party that will contest the upcoming elections: the Wa National Unity Party (WNUP). Both have reportedly been granted permission to set up as political parties by the Union Elections Commission (UEC) last month.
There is yet another Wa party: United Wa State Party (UWSP), political wing of the Unite Wa State Army (UWSA). The group has been quiet about entering the elections.
According to sources, the WDP was led by former members of the defunct Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) turned National Unity Party (NUP) turned Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) led by Khun Tun Lu, 60, who won the only NUP seat in Shan State at Hopang township in 1990. The NUP won ten seats across the country.
Other WDP members include Hsai Pao Nap and Jingda, both former BSPP members.
“It is therefore not the party that works for interest of Wa people and represents them. It will only be working for the interest of the military,” he said. “The party that will be working for the interest of the Wa people is the WNUP.”
The WNUP was formerly the Wa National Development Party (WNDP), one of the ten parties that were recognized by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) after the1990 elections.
The WNUP was founded by Ta Saulu, who was once imprisoned for disclosure of military junta involvement in drugs, according to sources from the Sino-Burma border.
“He was later released with the help of UWSA,” he said.
The party’s leadership includes Philip Hsam and Yi Pleuk.
However, there has been no report of which townships the two parties will be competing. Apart from the Wa Self-Administered Region that has 6 townships, there are other townships in Shan State where there are sizable Wa populations. They are: Tangyan in Shan State North and Kengtung, Mongton and Monghsat townships in Shan State East.
The Wa come from Mon-Khmer stock, the same family that includes Mon, Cambodians and Ta-ang (Palaung).It is one of the major groups of Shan State and was granted a Self-Administered Region by the junta-sponsored National Convention comprising six townships: Hopang, Mongmai, Pangwai, Nahparn, Panghsang and Markmang. The Wa also controls Mongpawk and some areas along the Thai-Burma border.