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The formation of the newly established Women’s Party has still not been approved by the Union Election Commission (UEC), its leaders say, adding that they have been harassed and interrogated by security forces since they made their initial application last year.
A UEC spokesperson told DVB that the application is still being processed. However, a deadline for forming new parties has been set as 30 April – just one week away.
Mi Than Shin, founder and proposed chairperson of the Mon State-based group, said on Wednesday that the party’s initial 15 members had been repeatedly scrutinised by UEC, special branch personnel and other government officials since they sought permission to register the party on 14 October last year.
“We are yet to be approved and have been told to replace one of the 15 initial members,” she said. “Other parties have to be scrutinised by the Special Branch [officially called Special Intelligence Department], but as for our party, we are under scrutiny by three different departments: the CID [Criminal Investigation Department], Special Branch and the Bureau of Special Investigations. They walk in to question us in full uniform.
“As our committee members are housewives without prior political experience, they get nervous in these interviews and sometimes can’t give the right answer. That’s why the officials instructed us to replace one of our members,” said Mi Than Shin.
“We thought we would have been approved by now. The elections are drawing close and we are still stuck in limbo. There are several other steps to go through such as applying to contest the election, and we don’t have much time left.”
Mi Than Shin said if the party is not approved, she plans to run in the general election, which is slated for November, as an independent candidate in Yebyu Township in Burma’s southernmost Tenasserim [Tanintharyi] Division.
The UEC’s director, Hla Maung Cho, said the Women’s Party application was still being considered.
“We are still scrutinising their proposal. As they had to replace one of their members, the process took longer than usual,” he told DVB on Wednesday.
“The UEC will approve their formation if they are qualified under the law.”
The Women’s Party says it aims to fight for equal rights for women and contest the 2015 elections in various constituencies across the country, but with a foothold in Mon State.
Other major Mon political parties in the region are the Mon National Party and the All Mon Region Democratic Party.