DVB Multimedia Group

Four Eights party still in limbo

Ko Ko Gyi (PHOTO: DVB)

Despite applying to register a political party back in December, members of the former 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) activist group said they still have not been accepted by the Union Election Commission (UEC).

88GPOS veteran and former political prisoner Ko Ko Gyi said that the organisers of the new party – which they have applied to register as the ‘Four Eights Party’, named after an infamous attack by the Burmese military on protesting students on 8-8-88 – are still waiting for the relevant ministries to approve their application.

“After the Election Commission accepts the establishment of our party, we will be given four months to produce an official party constitution, along with the names of two party leaders, a logo and emblem,” he said.

UEC spokesperson Aung Myint told DVB on Monday that the Commission has sent the profiles of the would-be party leaders to the Ministry of Immigration and Population and the Ministry of Home Affairs to ascertain that the party representatives are Burmese citizens.

“The relative ministries must ensure that the applicants are not linked to any unlawful association nor are receiving money from international donors,” he said. “The respective ministries have not yet returned their findings. I think the process may take a long time.”

Early last month, several prominent voices involved in the 8-8-88 uprising nearly 30 years ago objected to the formation of a ‘Four Eights Party’, saying the date signified a movement that encompassed pro-democracy aspirations across the country, and was not just the domain of the 88GPOS.

“[The numerology] 8888 does not belong to any individual or organisation,” said original 88 Generation group member Ko Zarni. “It was a monumental event in history; a struggle in which citizens across the entire country sacrificed their lives, blood and sweat against the totalitarian dictatorship in Burma. So, we object to naming the party the ‘four eights’. If a political party that has adopted the name ‘four eights’ makes a blunder, it would harm the entire historic movement.”

Ko Ko Gyi rejected the criticisms, saying, “The 88 uprising is the backbone of the country. The comrades who actively participated in the uprising value highly and respect the ‘four eights’.”

UEC spokesman Aung Myint said that the Commission had not received any official complaint or objection about the name.

More than 90 political parties are officially registered in Burma, but relatively few have tasted electoral success. At the last national polls in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won nearly 80 percent of elected seats in the national legislature.

Ko Ko Gyi said he believes his party could pose a challenge to the two major parties, the NLD and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

By-elections are due this year, and the UEC has stated that it will announce a date for those polls 90 days before Election Day.