YANGON—The Democratic Party of National Politics (DNP), led by former military generals, was created to represent the people, and not for the benefit of any individual or organization, its founder, former General U Soe Maung, said at the party’s launch in Yangon on Saturday.
Addressing online speculation about his motivations, U Soe Maung denied having any ties with the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (UDSP) or the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw). Skeptics believe the party was established at the instruction of former Senior General Than Shwe.
“We have no ties with any party, nor was it established under someone’s guidelines. [We established this party] based on our experience, and our party represents no one [in particular]. It does not represent the Tatmadaw. It does not represent individuals. It only represents people and works together [with other stakeholders],” U Soe Maung said in response to a question from The Irrawaddy.
U Soe Maung, who was President’s Office minister during the U Thein Sein administration, registered the DNP with the Union Election Commission (UEC) on Feb. 28.
He was a close confidant of former military regime leader U Than Shwe, and served as the military’s advocate-general before becoming President’s Office minister. He was also a member of the military commission that drafted the 2008 Constitution.
Another senior figure in the DNP is U Lun Maung, a former military officer who served as auditor-general in U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government until he asked to leave the post in 2012. He has since run a restaurant in Mon State’s Bilin Township, and kept a low-profile. U Lun Maung did not appear at the party launch ceremony on Saturday.
The UEC approved the DNP’s creation on May 17. Its stated objectives are to maintain peace, stability and national sovereignty and build a democratic and prosperous nation in line with global standards.
The party has already started mobilizing public support in western Bago, southern Shan State, some towns in central Myanmar including Mandalay, as well as Dawei and Kawthoung, said party secretary U Khin Maung Kyi.
The DNP sees the USDP and the ruling National League for Democracy as its major rivals, he said.
“We are very concerned that we will be labeled as the USDP’s proxy. And we are also criticized for having ties with the military. But we no longer belong to the military. We can’t take part in politics as service personnel. We have resigned from the military because we want to participate in politics. We were service personnel in the past, but we no longer are,” he said.
Party vice chairman U Soe Win called on the public to judge the DNP by what it is doing at present, and not based on party members’ pasts.
On Nov. 9 last year, local weekly publication the Myanmar Herald Journal reported that the ex-generals formed an association called “Ra Hta Pa La”—a Pali phrase that can be translated as “protection of the country”—to mobilize support for the formation of their party.
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