CHIANG MAI, Thailand — After five years of effort, three Kachin political parties agreed to merge on Saturday in order to meet a desire among ethnic Kachin for a single, strong party.
The Kachin Democratic Party (KDP), the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP), and the Kachin National Congress (KNC) agreed to the merger at a meeting of the Kachin Political Parties Coordination Committee in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina.
They finally managed it in hopes that the 2020 general election will not see them repeat the poor showings they suffered in 2015, said KDP Chairman U Aung Kham.
The KSDP was the only one of the three parties to win seats in 2015, capturing one in the Lower House and three in the State parliament, when the National League for Democracy swept to power with the vast majority of votes, followed far behind by the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
U Aung Kham told The Irrawaddy on Monday that their decision to merge “was to constitute a party that represents the Kachin State residents and to fulfill the Kachin people’s desire.” He said people were confused by the array of Kachin parties in 2015, causing all of them to lose votes.
The KDP chairman said the three party leaders will chose a name, logo and emblem for the new party and let the public decide whether to adopt it on Feb. 20.
The new party will have to register with the Union Election Commission, after which the three parties that formed it will dissolve.
U Aung Kham said the merging parties will also have to decide how, once merged, to maintain their relationship with the various coalitions they are members of, including the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation and the Union Nationalities Alliance.
Other parties in Kachin, including the Lawwal (Laovao) National Union and Development Party and the Kachin State Democracy and Development Party, are remaining independent.
“As for the Laovao party, we understand that they will need to have thorough discussions with their people,” he said, adding that it and others would be allowed to join the new party later on.