Chief Ministers of Arakan, Karen States Resign to Join USDP

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 26 August 2015

RANGOON — The chief ministers of two states have resigned to contest Burma’s upcoming general election, set for Nov. 8, representing the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

Maung Maung Ohn, the chief executive for Arakan State, and Karen State’s Zaw Min have been “granted retirement” by President Thein Sein, according to an announcement published in state media on Wednesday. The retirement order is effective immediately.

Both were former military strongmen who rose to political prominence in recent years. Maung Maung Ohn was appointed as chief minister of Arakan State in 2014 amid criticism of the government’s handling of a rash of deadly inter-communal riots.

Ex-Brig-Gen Zaw Min has served as head of southeastern Burma’s Karen State since March 2011, when Thein Sein first took office.

Both men will compete for the USDP, the military-backed ruling party. According to an election sub-commission official in Pegu Division, Tun Myint, Zaw Min will contest a seat in the Lower House representing Kawa Township. The Union Election Commission confirmed that Maung Maung Ohn will run for the state legislature Arakan State’s Ann Township.

The last month has seen dozens of senior military officers resign from active duty to join the USDP before the November vote. Candidacy applications are still being scrutinized by the election board, but the party has submitted a list of 1,134 aspirants including military retirees, current cabinet members, leading businesspeople and sitting lawmakers.

The USDP has nominated 59 freshly retired military personnel and 46 members of the current administration, the party told reporters last month upon disclosure of preliminary candidate lists.