Election commission probes new nationalist party

The Union Election Commission headquarters in Naypyidaw. (Photo: UEC)

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Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) said it has begun scrutinising the profiles of the leaders of a new nationalist political party that has been formed.

Tin Tun, spokesperson of UEC, told DVB today that the process “may take a long time”, and that his office would liaise with the ministries of home affairs and immigration.

“First and foremost, we must ensure that the applicants are citizens of Myanmar [Burma],” he said.

Former members of the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, proposed setting up a party on 2 March. The Ma Ba Tha is a hardline group of nationalist Buddhists including monks. It is headed by firebrand monk Wirathu, depicted as “The Face of Buddhist Terror” by TIME Magazine in 2013.

Writer Maung Thway Chon told DVB that he and his colleagues had submitted a letter proposing the establishment of the new party to the UEC on 2 August, and that they intended naming it the Patriotic and United Party, or PUP.

“We hope the UEC will accept our proposal. Our policy is anti-Bengali and to lead in the development of Buddhism. I believe it follows the code of the 2008 constitution,” he said.

However, Section 6 (d) of the Political Parties Registration Law notes that the leaders of any group wishing to form a party must have abstained from organising or instigating conflict with regard to nationality or religion.

Speaking to DVB today, UEC spokesperson Tin Tun said, “We don’t know yet whether this party will be allowed to register. We will abide by the existing laws.”

Maung Thway Chon said that the party-to-be had already appointed a central executive committee of 21 members, of which he is the chairman. He said the secretary is former legal advisor to the Ma Ba Tha, Aye Paing.

“Any interested individuals can join the PUP,” he said. “We will gain a say over protecting our race and religion if we get elected to parliament.”

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