Ethnic leaders join NLD vote-boycott roadshow

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Ethnic leaders from the group made up of ethnic political parties that contested in the 1990 general election, have joined the National League for Democracy’s “no vote” campaign ahead of elections on November 7.

The main opposition NLD party left Rangoon yesterday for Kachin State on week-long roadshow trip organisational trip accompanied by Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) party leader and Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP) secretary Aye Thar Aung. They briefed NLD township, ward and village level organising committee members from 11 townships in Mandalay Division.

“I am glad and encouraged at meeting organising committee members from townships, wards and villages for the first time after the authority dissolved NLD,” Aye Thar Aung said.

NLD central executive committee member Ohn Kyaing, NLD women’s wing members Phyu Phyu Thin, Hla Hla Moe, Aye Aye Mar, NLD youth wing member Myo Nyunt and Aye Thar Aung met organisers from Mogok, Singu, Madaya, Thapeikkyin, Patheingyi, Tadaoo, Amrapura, Singai and Pyinoolwin townships and exchanged their views on boycotting this year’s national elections. 

Fellow ethnic minority and CRPP leader, Zomi National Congress (ZNC) chairman Pu Cing Tsian Thang, joined NLD leaders in a similar trip to southern Shan State and Soe Win from the National Democracy Party joined NLD leaders in their trip to western Pegu Division.

Upon reaching Kachin State, Aye Thar Aung said he would pass on some of the motions passed at the CRPP meeting held on September 3 month including a resolution not to vote in upcoming polls.

The group resolved to boycott 2010 general election, to discuss issues and difficulties being faced by ethnic people including concerns over the building possibility that a new wave of civil war would break out amid growing tension between junta forces and armed ethnic groups under ceasefire that have rejected the junta’s Border Guard Force (BGF) demand.

They also decided to discuss the 2008 constitution and to tell people in ethnic areas that building a genuine federal union and national unity could only be achieved through enacting a constitution based on the Panlong spirit that would entrench democratic and ethnic rights.

“The Kachin [Independence Organisation’s armed wing] said that they would not need to bear arms if the Union [of Burma] was based on the Panlong agreement. And the CRPP has reached a resolution on how to build a Union in future based on that agreement. We will discuss these matters with the people during this trip. Another topic will be on the current situation of distrust of the SPDC [junta] by armed ethnic groups and their delay in disarming themselves,” Aye Thar Aung said.

The junta’s electoral watchdog, the Union Election Commission (UEC), issued a notice mid-last month that claimed five old political parties including the NLD were automatically dissolved as they had failed to re-register with the UEC during the stipulated time. The NLD has since conducted roadshows to explain to the public their no-vote policy. They have completed trips to almost 10 of the states and divisions.

“Party members are more consolidated and the party is stronger after these meetings. We can say this is a significant and progressive result of survival and revival. Party members abide by our policy of non-voting in the election. If some of them go and cast their vote this time, they will never be free from fear. But we can say how many people didn’t vote only after the election,” Ohn Kyaing told Mizzima.

The CRPP was established on September 16, 1998 by the NLD, which won more than 80 per cent of seats in the 1990 general election and ethnic parties that also won seats, to call on the junta to convene the Hluttaw (parliament)

Member parties are the ALD, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Shan State Kokang Democratic Party, the Mon Nationality Democratic Front, the ZNC and Union Nationalities League for Democracy.

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