KARENNI POLITICAL PARTIES SAY THEY WON’T RUN IN MILITARY-ORGANIZED GENERAL ELECTION

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By Kantarawaddy Times

The Kayah State Democratic Party (KySDP) and Kayan National Party (KNP) will not run in any future SAC-organized general election in Karenni state, party representatives have told Kantarawaddy Times.

“We are not preparing anything for the upcoming general election. We decided that we won’t run in this election. Clashes continue in some townships of Karenni State, and many people have been displaced. I don’t know how the military regime will be able to hold an election in Karenni state,” a male KySDP member (source 1) told Kantarawaddy Times.

The military regime has changed the Election Law, allowing official party registration only for political parties that have 100,000 members and 100 million Kyat. The male KySDP member (source 1) said that it will be really difficult for ethnic political parties to register with the Election Commission under these new requirements.

According to the new Election Law, political parties must register with the Election Commission before 31 March (a 60-day period starting from 31 January). If a political party does not register with Election Commission before the deadline, the status of the party will be automatically cancelled by the Commission.

The military regime’s mouthpiece media groups have reported that the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has already registered with the Election Commission.

Representatives of the KySDP and KNP old Kantarawaddy Times that their parties would not register with the Election Commission.

“We won’t register with the Election Commission. We do not care about it. Our party will continue to operate because our people continue to support us,” one of secretaries of the KNP (source 2) told Kantarawaddy Times.

In the 2020 general election, the KySDP and KNP both ran and won seats. The KySDP won three seats in the national-level House of Nationalities, two seats in the national-level House of Representatives, and three seats in the State parliament. The KNP won one State-level Minister of Ethnic Affairs seat.

On 29 January, the Central Executive Committee of the National League for Democracy (NLD) released a statement announcing that the party would oppose the upcoming general election organized by the military regime.

The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), the Demawso People’s Defense Force (Demawso PDF) and the Karenni Revolutionary Union (KRU) have all announced that they will not allow the military regime’s general election to happen in Karenni State.

The military regime’s mouthpiece media groups have reported that the regime would try to hold the general election in more than 50% of constituencies across country. These media reported that the military regime has control over 198 Townships out of 330 Townships in Burma. It was announced that the military regime will tighten security in 67 Townships.

On 2 February, the military regime imposed martial law in Demawso, Hpruso, Shardaw and Bawlakhe townships in Karenni State.

“The regime is trying to control more territories. The civilian resistance groups are showing their presence in many places, so the regime wants to try to regain their territory and this is why they have launched offensive operations against us,” a KNDF officer (source 3), who is working with KNDF’s information department, told Kantarawaddy Times.

In January, local government staff started collecting population data to prepare voter lists in Hpasaung, Bawlakhe and Loikaw towns.

A male Loikaw resident (source 4) said that the military regime organized a celebration of Kayah State Day in Loikaw town even though armed clashes continued in other parts of Karenni State. He (source 4) suggested that this means the military regime will try to organize an election in Karenni State by pressuring local people to participate in election related activities despite the continuing violence.

“I think the military regime will put pressure on people to participate in the coming general election. I think the majority of people do not support this election. As for me, I don’t trust regime’s general election. A general election was already held in 2020, and everybody knows who won the election,” he (source 4) told Kantarawaddy Times.

The Burma Army forcibly took power from the elected civilian government on 1 February 2021 under the pretext that there was election fraud. On 1 February 2023, the SAC military regime again extended their power for another six-month period.

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