Interview

Myanmar Regime Has No Legitimacy to Hold Election: DPNS Leader

By The Irrawaddy 17 October 2022

The Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), which opposes military rule in Myanmar, turned 34 on October 14.

It was established by students in the aftermath of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising and was at the time the second-biggest political party after the National League for Democracy.

The DPNS joined pro-democracy protests after last year’s coup, saying it would not cooperate with the regime.

The party is engaged domestically and internationally to bring down the regime.

It is the only political party involved in the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), the highest-level body of the opposition.

DPNS chairman U Aung Moe Zaw recently talked to The Irrawaddy about how the DPNS has changed over the last 34 years and how he sees the revolution.

What lessons did you learn from the 2020 general election?

The results of both the 1990 and 2020 general elections were rejected and what’s worse, the generals took back power.

Unless the military dictatorship is rooted out, to quote [late prominent political prisoner] U Win Tin, unless the generals are kicked into the Bay of Bengal, our country will remain in deep water.

Our country will have a healthy future only when the dictatorship is completely wiped out.

The DPNS supported revolutions against the previous and current regimes. What made the party join elections in the past?

The revolution must continue as long as those people exist. Around 2013 we thought there were political changes in the country. So we decided to go back into the country, stand as a political party and work with other stakeholders for a gradual transition.

Our commitment and our political standpoint to continue to bring about changes in the country never changes and we only changed the way we work to make those changes happen.

But the coup showed that democracy is impossible with the military. We must fight them or future generations will be in trouble.

What is the DPNS’ policy on the revolution?

What has happened has strengthened the people’s resolve to end military rule. Parents urge their children to fight.

Ethnic minorities have joined the revolution. Karen, Karenni, Kachin and Rakhine groups are participating.

The 8888 uprising is a significant event in our history but this is on a wider scale. People now have political ambitions about how they want to build the country.

The DPNS is the only party involved in the NUCC, the highest-level political body in the revolution. Why did the DPNS join the NUCC?

This revolution needs cooperation among various organizations. The Bamar are engaged in armed revolt across the country. As many groups revolt, it is important to establish links among them.

There must be a platform like the NUCC that all forces can join. So we joined to continue to engage in the revolution with all the others.

We want other political organizations and individuals to join. Only when we work and struggle together will we be able to satisfy the hopes and demands of our people.

The NUCC has been criticized for failing to provide effective policy leadership. What is your assessment of the NUCC’s leadership?

Some people and organizations had never met each other before they joined the NUCC. There are ethnic armed organizations, political parties, civil society groups and protesters in the NUCC.

They vary in age, experience and the way they work.

They have different views and it will take time to discuss political issues. It will take longer than we expect. But it is good to have a platform.

Our revolution is a long journey.

It will be stronger if we are closer and have greater trust through meetings.

The National Unity Government (NUG) is acting as a parallel administration. How do you assess the NUG’s leadership during the revolution?

Everything it has done so far is aimed at fulfilling the demands of the people, I assume. We must work together.

To step up the revolt, it needs to work closely with ethnic armed forces, which are key.

If they have a clear consensus not only about ousting the dictatorship but also about how to establish a federal union, which everyone is demanding, our revolt will become stronger.

What is the DPNS’ view on the election the regime plans to hold next year?

The regime does not have any legitimacy to hold an election and we must prevent it from doing so. No one recognizes the regime as legitimate.

Regional countries and the international community do not recognize it either.

But perhaps some countries and international agencies may recognize an election. So we must stop it happening.

We are obliged to do so.

The regime is trying to climb on the international stage through the ladder of an election. We must knock it down.

I ask our partner organizations and citizens to stop the regime claiming legitimacy through the dog’s door. I urge for cooperation to stop this and no governments to recognize any election.

The regime is competing with the NUG to gain legitimacy on the international stage. But China, the US and other western countries have agreed that Myanmar’s crisis should be settled through ASEAN. Are you satisfied with the international community’s intervention in Myanmar?

It is wrong to let ASEAN handle Myanmar. Countries like Malaysia support Myanmar’s people but Cambodia and Laos cooperate with the regime. I can’t accept the US and other countries asking ASEAN to handle Myanmar. US President Barack Obama visited Myanmar twice after 2010. The US certainly backed the changes that happened.

But it appears to have distanced itself now we are in trouble.

I don’t like the way the international community handles Myanmar.

It provides huge support for Ukraine but asks ASEAN to handle Myanmar.

It should be more serious and do more. Right now we have to work by ourselves.

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