(Irrawaddy) Two parties, the Union Democratic Party (UDP) and the Chin National Party (CNP), submitted applications on Wednesday and Thursday to the Union Election Commission to take part in the national election later
To date, 13 parties have applied to contest in the election, expected to be held sometime this fall.
Officials of the CNP could not be reached.
The chairman of the UDP is Phyo Min Thein, a former political prisoner who took part in the 1988 demonstrations. Shwe Ohn, a Shan ethnic leader, is a party patron.
Phyo Min Thein told The Irrawaddy on Thursday: “Our ideology is based on liberal democratic thinking in context with the Union. Democracy, human rights and national reconciliation are major goals of our party.
“I was arrested and released from prison in 2005,” he said. “I accept that the election law is unfair and the 2008 Constitutional is not good. But if we have no political party to stand on, we cannot do anything because we’ll be outside the political circle.”
He said the party will try to contest nationwide, and it expects to win most of its constituencies in cities.
Shwe Ohn, a contemporary of Burma’s post-war leader Aung San, is a former journalist and he was an observer at the 1947 Panglong conference that created the Union of Burma.
During the regime of dictator Ne Win, Shwe Ohn left politics, but kept in touch with the veteran political community.
After the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, he founded the Shan State People’s Freedom League for Democracy, which forged a political alliance with the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The party was later de-registered by the junta.
Shwe Ohn was a patron of the banned coalition of ethnic political parties known as the United Nationalities League for Democracy.
In 1993, he was arrested and detained for one year after criticizing the military-sponsored National Convention.
In February 2005, Shwe Ohn was arrested at a gathering of Shan leaders in Taunggyi, Shan State, where the formation of a federal union uniting all ethnic groups was discussed. Shwe Ohn was released, but several other Shan leaders at the meeting, including Hkun Htun Oo of the Shan National League for Democracy, the second most successful party in the 1990 election, were sentenced to prison terms of between 75 and 106 years. Hkun Htun Oo was given a 93-year sentence.
Meanwhile, Union Election Commission has announced the formation of state and division sub-commissions for the election. Sub-commission offices will be opened in the respective state and division General Administration Department offices, according to a state- run newspaper.
Another Karen political party, the Pwo-Sgaw Democratic Party, is being organized in Pa-an, the capital of Karen State, and will register at a later date. Most members are academics or students and a party goal is to improve state government.
The party will mainly contest in Mon and Karen states and Tanintharyi, Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Pegu divisions.