The Irrawaddy

Ex-Generals Apply to Form New Political Party

By-election 2017 Eastern Dagon Township in Rangoon. PHOTO - NAING LIN SOE / THE IRRAWADDY

NAYPYITAW — Ex-ministers U Soe Maung and U Lun Maung have applied to the Union Election Commission to form a political party.

“They submitted the applications a couple of days ago. [According to election law], there must be at least 15 members [in a political party]. I don’t remember other names. We are scrutinizing according to procedure,” spokesperson of the UEC U Myint Naing told The Irrawaddy.

Their party is named the “National Political Party,” he said.

Both of them are ex-generals. U Soe Maung served as the minister of the President’s Office under former President U Thein Sein’s government. He lost the general election in 2015.

U Lun Maung served as the auditor-general under the military regime and U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government until he was allowed to take a rest from his duties in 2012. He has since run a restaurant in Mon State’s Bilin Township.

Former chairman of the Union Civil Service Board U Kyaw Thu is also among the applicants, said ex-general U Ko Ko Naing.

“I also heard that the party is led by ex-President’s Office minister U Soe Maung,” he said.

U Soe Maung declined to comment on the policies of his party while the UEC has not yet made a decision regarding the proposal. “It is too early to talk about our party. We’ll make arrangements,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The Irrawaddy was unable to contact U Lun Maung.

U Kyaw Thu did not confirm or deny reports that he is a member of U Soe Maung’s party.

“Some friends of mine who are planning to establish a political party have asked me to join them. I have personal ties to Ko Soe Maung. We have known each other for a long time. You will know when the time is appropriate,” said U Kyaw Thu.

An official of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), who does not want to be named, suggested that the party might be a preparation for ex-general U Shwe Mann to contest the 2020 general election. But it is quite unlikely if U Lun Maung is also included, he said.

U Shwe Mann was purged from the USDP in August 2015 in what was believed to be a power struggle between him and former President U Thein Sein. U Shwe Mann now serves as the chairman of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission of Myanmar’s Parliament thanks to his close ties with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

U Ko Ko Naing, who is also a member of the U Shwe Mann’s commission, dismissed the suggestion.

“It is not like that. The party may be led only by U Soe Maung. He may not partner with others except his close friends,” said U Ko Ko Naing.

Many in the political circle believe that U Lun Maung was forced to retire under U Thein Sein’s government because of U Shwe Mann, who was then the speaker of the Lower House.

According to the UEC, Myanmar now has 110 political parties including the latest, the People’s Party, led by 1988 pro-democracy activist U Ko Ko Gyi.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.