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Ethnic Issues

New Alliance to Focus on National Interest, Avoid ‘Power Politics’

A recently forged alliance that includes several ethnic political parties says it will focus efforts on national development rather than power politics.


RANGOON — An alliance forged last month and including several of Burma’s ethnic political parties says it will focus its efforts on national development rather than wade into the country’s power politics.

The Federal Democracy Alliance announced Tuesday that the group will prioritize amending the 2008 Constitution to establish a federal system of governance for Burma; contributing to ongoing peace talks inside the country; and advancing a path for the country less dominated by its ethnic majority Burmans.

Another goal of the recently formed alliance will be to support small political parties’ ability to compete against Burma’s two biggest political parties, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), in national elections slated for 2015. The alliance will not, its members insist, seek to challenge the overall predominance of the country’s two main parties.

The FDA’s objectives were made public following the alliance’s first detailed discussions among the political parties involved, which were held on Tuesday.

Seven political parties have signed onto the alliance: the Democratic Party Myanmar, the Unity and Peace Party, the Karen People’s Party, the Diversity and Peace Party, the Chin Progressive Party, the Democratic Party for New Society and the National Democratic Force.

Three other parties attended Tuesday’s discussion and are considering joining the FDA, but have not yet officially committed. They are the Democracy and Peace Party, the Union Democracy Party and the United Democracy Party (Kachin State).

“We’ve had the idea since 2010 to form this kind of group, but we had been unable do that with disparate causes, but now there are about nine parties that have agreed to form this group,” said Khin Maung Swe, chairman of the National Democratic Force.

The FDA coalition, which was announced on Dec. 18, is the latest creation in an increasingly complicated alphabet soup of political alliances, mergers and defections in Burma’s nascent parliamentary democracy.

The chairman of the Democratic Party Myanmar, Thu Wai, said five former Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF) member parties were ethnic minority-affiliated and had split from the Federated Union Party (FUP), an all-ethnic alliance originally comprised of 16 parties that was formed last year.

Thu Wai, whose party also recently left the NBF, said the FDA would not seek an antagonistic relationship with the FUP or the NBF.

“Ethnic parties from our former group [the NBF] are going to work with the Federal Union Party, but other ethnic parties are also interested in working with us. This group is not only for ethnic parties, but for all political parties that are interested in [the formation of] a federal union,” he said.

“We will compete in the 2015 general election, though we will not put much emphasis on power politics, because we want to focus on the country’s development,” he said.

Saw Moe Myint, a central executive committee member of the Karen Public Party, said he was optimistic that the FDA could aid smaller ethnic political parties in the 2015 elections.

“If we participate in this group, one thing is, we need to separate each campaign constituency during the election,” Saw Moe Myint said, referring to a need to ensure the alliance was putting forward candidates in line with a given constituency’s ethnic composition. “But yes, it [the alliance] can be stronger than any one individual party.”

A loosely formed “democracy alliance” of some 10 political parties, including five ethnic parties, supported candidates in national elections in 2010 and by-elections in 2012. That group, led by the NDF and the Democratic Party Myanmar, would later become the NBF, in 2012.