(Mizzima) – The Chairman of a new ethnic Rakhine party, Union of Myanmar National Political Forces (Rakhine State), has said the party will register with the Election Commission next month
to contest the 2010 election.
“We are planning to register our party before or after the Thingyan festival. We are still discussing the issue,” party Chairman Aye Kyaing told Mizzima.
Aye Kyaing was a member of Kyaungtawthar, or The Study Group, prior to forming the UMNPF (Rakhine State).
The Study Group has been toeing the Burmese military junta’s line while being critical of the main opposition party National League for Democracy. It is alleged that The Study Group was receiving financial support from the junta.
Aye Kyaing has been the Chairman of UMNPF (Rakhine State) since its inception in 2005, though the party was not legal. The Vice-Chairman of the party is San Tin from Myauk Oo, with Secretary Myint Zaw from Sittwe and Joint-Secretary Maung Ohn Tin from Kyauk Taw.
The party has branch offices in 14 townships including Sittwe, Kyawk Taw and Myauk Oo out of a total of 17 townships in Rakhine State. Party membership, according to Aye Kyaing, is over 240,000.
“We have done organizational work in all townships except Than Dwe (Sandoway), Gwa and Man Aung. We have also already mobilized 180 Rakhine people in Rangoon,” he elaborated.
However, Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) Chairman Aye Thar Aung said new Rakhine parties likely to contest the elections cannot work for the benefit of Rakhine State as the 2008 Constitution ignores ethnic rights.
“There is no room for doing work for the people in Rakhine State under the 2008 Constitution and 2010 electoral laws,” he said.
In the 1990 general elections, the ALD won 11 constituencies out of a total of 26 in Rakhine State. The NLD was the second largest winning party, taking nine constituencies.
Some military officers believed to be representatives of the National Unity Party (NUP), a political party formed by the military junta, members of the Burma Socialist Program Party and the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) are also conducting organizational work and touring Rakhine State, say local residents from Sittwe.
“Some military officers visited our wards and asked what community development work we want done, such as repairing roads or schools. They have never done this before,” explained a Sittwe grocery store owner.
Pro-junta parties such as the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics, 88 Generation Student Youths and National Unity Party have already registered with the Election Commission.