Home Ministry Vetting Ex-Generals' Application to Form Party, Election Body Says

By Htet Naing Zaw 19 November 2018

NAYPYITAW — The Union Election Commission said the military-run Home Affairs Ministry was reviewing an application by a trio of ex-generals to form a political party.

U Soe Maung, U Lun Maung and U Kyaw Thu, all former generals and ministers, applied to form the National Political Party in August.

U Soe Maung retired as the Myanmar military’s advocate-general before serving as president’s office minister under then-President U Thein Sein. He was also a member of the military commission that drafted the current Constitution, but lost his race in the 2015 general elections.

U Lun Maung served as auditor-general under 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.

U Kyaw Thu was a brigadier general in the army and served as chairman of the Union Civil Service Board, a government agency responsible for recruiting civil servants.

“We have handed their proposal to the Home Affairs Ministry. This is a normal procedure for all [potential] parties, and we will proceed according to the procedures after the ministry submits its report,” said election commission spokesman U Myint Naing.

Upon receiving a proposal to establish a political party, both the Home Affairs Ministry and the Labor Ministry’s Immigration and Population Department must determine whether the applicants have links to terrorist organizations or unlawful associations.

U Soe Maung declined to comment for this story. When news about his plans to form a party broke in August, he told media that he would not comment until the election commission made a final decision.

“Normally the review takes three months. In some cases it lasts up to six months, depending on the [background of the] applicants,” said U Myint Naing.

On Nov. 9 the Myanmar Herald Journal reported that the ex-generals had already 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 a party to be headed by them.

The report said the association met in Pegu Region’s Letpadan Township on Nov. 2, and that State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and former military junta leader U Than Shwe agreed to make the current military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the president of Myanmar after the 2020 general elections.

“Core party members [of the National Political Party] who held talks with retired Major General Soe Maung said they think Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will be retired and appointed president in 2020,” U Than Myat Soe, former secretary of the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s Letpadan chapter, was quoted as saying by the Myanmar Herald Journal.

U Zaw Myint Maung, vice-chairman of the ruling National League for Democracy, denied the report.

“It is not true that there is such an agreement. It was just intended to mislead the people,” he told the media on Nov. 11.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.