Following Name Change, Ex-Student Activist Party Officially Registers with Election Commission

By Zarni Mann 24 August 2018

MANDALAY — After struggling with criticism of its name, a new political party formed by prominent activists during the 1988 student uprising finally received the green light from the Union Election Commission (UEC) on Friday to be registered.

The UEC announced on Friday in state-run newspapers that the registration of ‘The People’s Party,’ has been granted in accordance with the law for the registration of new political parties.

Initially, the party was named ‘The Four Eights People’s Party’ and received criticism over the use of four eight digits (8888) which refer to the historical nationwide pro-democracy uprising against the Ne Win dictatorship that began, led by students, in Yangon on Aug. 8, 1988.

The registration of this new political party had been stalled as the UEC told the party founder to change its name after a series of complaints and rejections were reportedly sent to the UEC.

In early July, the party founder changed the party name to ‘The People’s Party,’ dropping the ‘Four Eights,’ and then reapplied for party registration with the UEC.

Since their party is now registered as a new political party, they will submit lists naming their central committee members and party members within 90 days, according to the rules and regulations stated by UEC.

“We are now officially able to use our party name, logo and flag so we will begin recruiting party members,” said U Ko Ko Gyi, one of the party founders.

“After that, we will have an election within the party to elect the central committee members and will submit the lists to the UEC,” he added.

Although it is expected that U Ko Ko Gyi will be the party’s chairman, he refused the suggestion saying that the party will announce the list of their central committee members only after their party elections.

On the other hand, due to the delays in their registration processes, the new party will be unable to participate in the upcoming country-wide by-election.

“Although we were late for the by-election, we have many things to prepare step-by-step for the upcoming election in 2020. We will first explain the ambitions of our party to the public and will accept those who want to be our party members,” said U Ko Ko Gyi, who was one of the most prominent student leaders during the 1988 student uprising.

He said that The People’s Party will become an alternative choice for the voter and that the party’s aim was to foster the development of political pluralism so that people have many choices.

He also said that the party will work to provide services that improve people’s daily lives; for the rehabilitation of former political prisoners and their families; and to allow former political activists who have returned from exile to be involved in the country’s transition.

Early in 2017, U Ko Ko Gyi and his counterparts who were among the student leaders in the 1988 student uprising, started laying the foundations of the new political party. They first attempted to register the party in December 2017.

As their new political party has been successfully registered at UEC, The People’s Party has become the first political party to be founded and run by student activists of the country’s historic student-led uprising in 1988.