By Ahunt Phone Myat
More than 10 politicians who cut their teeth in the National League for Democracy have joined Thein Nyunt, an opposition parliamentarian who defected from the National Democratic Force this year, as he pushes ahead with a bid to set up a new party.
Also included in the party, which if approved by the Union Election Commission will operate under the title of New National Democratic Party, are five serving parliamentarians, one of whom is Thein Nyunt.
His decision to form a new party comes after the one-time senior NLD member was expelled from the NDF, which itself split off from the NLD so that it could compete in the November 2010 elections.
Thein Nyunt was accused by fellow NDF leaders, notably party co-founder Khin Maung Swe, of sharing sensitive policy details with the media and accusing the party of using foreign funding, a practice that is illegal under Burmese law. Thein Nyunt responded that the party had failed to carry out a financial audit it had promised to do.
A request to form the New National Democratic Party was made yesterday in Burma’s capital, Naypyidaw, and listed the names of 20 founding members. Thein Nyunt said that “12 of the 20 founders previously worked with the National League for Democracy for over 20 years – they have experiences in the 1990 elections and also participated in the 2010 elections”.
Also included is the popular Burmese hip hop artist, Yatha, who rose to fame in 2006 and since has appeared on an MTV Exit programme on human trafficking in neighbouring Thailand.
Relations between Thein Nyunt and his former colleagues in the NDF have not improved, and bitterness clearly remains.
“I chose the name National Democratic Force for my former party in the 2010 elections; it was formed by me and those from the NLD who … wanted to participate in the elections,” he said.
“But they expelled me 10 days after we won the elections but that’s their decision. Now I’m forming the New National Democratic Party to get back on the election track. We are forming this party with people who have been loyal for 20 years, not those who are cunning and who will stab politics in the back.”
The party is preparing for the interim elections, Thein Nyunt said, rumours of which have circulated since the appointment of more than 40 MPs to cabinet posts and advisory committees following the first session of parliament in February. Under Burmese parliamentary legislation, those seats must be replaced via a second round of votes.
No details about the interim elections have been released, and it is not yet known whether anything has been finalised. The head of the Union Election Commission, Thein Soe, said in a recent parliamentary session however that they may be held October or November this year.