Which party will represent Karenni in the election the military junta is planning to hold in 2023? Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) First Secretary Khu Daniel said his party will not participate. He added that the election to be held by the junta does not involve the public, and is limited to candidates and parties who work with the military junta.
“As far as we are concerned, we have already decided that we will not allow anyone to represent the Karenni. Neither the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Union Strength and Development Party (USDP), nor the Kayah State Democratic Party (KySDP) etc. We mean that the Karenni will accept no party as representative in this election,” Khu Daniel continued.
In the Karenni region, the military junta controls some parts of Loikaw and Bawlahke districts as well as Messe and Demawso districts.
Khu Thomas, a Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) news and information officer and commander of the 1st KNDF battalion, said the junta is only holding an election in an attempt to gain international recognition and legitimacy.
“This election is likely to happen. But it’s like a fake election. There is a possibility of polling in some big cities. However, there is no way for it to happen in a state like ours. Politically, as an attempt to gain international standing, the junta may hold many fake elections like this,” Khu Thomas said.
“Even if the junta held elections, in the Karenni region where the fighting is ongoing, elections could not be done within the specified period,” according to the general secretary of the Burmese Women’s Union (BWU) Zupadummah. “If we look at the Karenni region, we can see that 75% to 80% is controlled by the KNDF. Most of the places are fighting. Also, the military has almost no support. How will they operate polling stations and conduct proper voting? That’s why I don’t think that the military will be able to successfully hold the election within the specified time period in the current situation.” said Zupadummah.
The National League for Democracy Party (NLD), the party that won the most support nationwide, announced today, November 9, that it will not accept the military junta’s election at all. The junta alleged fraud in the 2020 election, which it lost in a landslide to the NLD, and seized power in 2021. It is spending two years trying to change conditions so that the military USDP party can win in a junta-run election in 2023. This consists of banning the overwhelmingly popular NLD, imprisoning, killing, and discrediting its candidates, and attempting to intimidate, subvert, and co-opt its members.
At present, the military junta’s Election Commission claims to be verifying the current voter list and determining polling stations in order to hold elections in 2023. As in Karenni State, however, the junta has no presence or control in large parts of other states and regions, and thus will not be able to hold even the semblance of an election in half of the country or more.