RANGOON — Burma’s newest ethnic political party, the Federal Union Party (FUP), will hold a meeting of central committee members next week in Rangoon, after the government approved the party’s registration on Tuesday, allowing its members to run in the 2015 elections.
The FUP comprises former members of 16 ethnic political parties from around the country, and party leaders say they hope to challenge the nation’s two biggest political parties—the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD)—at the polls.
Saw Than Myint, one of the FUP founders, told The Irrawaddy that his party would run in nationwide elections to represent all ethnic minorities in Burma, and to push for a federalist political system that would offer more power to ethnic minority states.
“Our party policy is, firstly, to have a federal union in our country, and second to have equal rights. This is mainly what we are working on,” he said. “Without a federal union, our country cannot have peace. All our ethnic armed groups and ethnic political parties want a federal union system.”
The FUP consists of parties from the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF)—an ethnic alliance initially formed after the 2010 elections by the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), the Chin National Party (CNP), the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP) and the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party. The NBF now has a core group of seven parties, with six parties as observers.
Aye Maung, chairman of the RNDP, said the USDP and the NLD had ethnic members but did not represent the ethnic minority people, who make up 40 percent of Burma’s 60 million or so population.
“We need to find a way to beat the USDP and the NLD,” he said. “Ethnic people live in different areas of the country. We will find out more about where the biggest populations of ethnic minorities are, after Burma finishes its nationwide census. Then we plan to place our candidates.”
FUP leaders say they will only contest elections in constituencies with no other ethnic parties, including in Rangoon and Mandalay.
Party co-founder Saw Than Myint said the census could identify an even larger percentage of ethnic minorities in the population.
“In the election, we can beat the USDP and the NLD by looking at the strong force of ethnic people,” he said. “Our party’s strength is that we are an ethnic party, and hopefully all ethnic people will trust us.”
The FUP is not a coalition party, and its members have resigned from their former political parties.