Karenni Groups Fear Calls for Inclusion Will Fall on Deaf NLD Ears

By Yen Saning 26 January 2016

RANGOON — In December, some 40 ethnic Karenni organizations, including armed factions and political parties, penned a letter to National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi calling for Karenni voices to be adequately represented in the state’s new government.

As new MPs prepare to take up their seats in Union Parliament next week, Karenni civil society groups say their concerns have yet to be acknowledged.

Khun Bedu, a central committee member of the Union of Karenni State Youth, said the letter welcomed the NLD’s thumping election win but also urged party members to include ethnic voices in the new local government.

“When the Kayah [Karenni] State government is formed, ethnic MPs as well as Burman MPs living in Kayah will participate in the process. But if mostly ethnic groups are included, there could be better communication with ethnic armed groups,” Khun Bedu told The Irrawaddy.

“What we want is to include more local ethnic voices. People actually living here have a better understanding of the state.”

Solomon, deputy-chair of the All Nationals’ Democracy Party (Kayah State), said that the letter also urged the NLD to appoint a local as chief minister.

He acknowledged that the shape of the new Karenni State government would not be known until next month but that Suu Kyi had promised a national government based on a principle of national reconciliation, including ethnic representation.

The NLD has stated its intention to appoint members from within the party to the top executive posts in Burma’s states and divisions.

The All Nationals’ Democracy Party (Kayah State), which failed to win a seat of 26 contested on Nov. 8, has yet to be contacted by the NLD, according to the ethnic party. The NLD won six Lower House, nine Upper House and 11 regional seats in Karenni State.