The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) congratulated newly-elected leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU), Burma’s oldest ethnic armed organization last weekend.
With the signature of USDP chairman U Than Htay, the party released the congratulation notice on Saturday, stating that the party was pleased and proud of the leaders who were elected during the KNU’s 16th Congress. It specifically named the top five KNU leaders, including chairman Saw Mutu Say Poe and vice chairman Saw Kwe Htoo Win.
Saw Mutu Say Poe and Saw Kwe Htoo Win have established relations with U Thein Sein, former president and former USDP chairman. During his administration, the two KNU leaders repeatedly met with the former president in Naypyidaw. They have also met with Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing several times in the capital.
The USDP is a political party comprised primarily of former Burma Army officials and backed by the Burma Army. It won the general election in 2010, but was defeated by the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the 2015 general election.
The statement from the USDP came the same day that the KNU elected its top five leaders in its headquarters in Lay Wah, also known as Law Khee Lar, in Pa-an District, Karen State.
The KNU wrapped up its 16th Congress last week where it elected the five senior leaders along with 55 central standing committee members. It also formed an 11-member central executive committee (CEC) to act as a decision-making body.
Gen Saw Johnny, chief of the KNU’s military wing the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and member of the KNU’s CEC, along with CEC member Saw Roger Khin, have also met with former President U Thein Sein.
Observers say the newly elected KNU leaders are not new faces to the USDP or former government officials.