Despite landslide victory, NLD appeals to ethnic parties to join its ‘national unity government’

The National League for Democracy (NLD) has penned an open letter following its landslide election victory calling on ethnic parties to join it in building federalism, though some were skeptical of the peace offering. 

The letter, published Wednesday, was addressed to 48 ethnic parties. “The ethnic parties’ aims align with those of the NLD, and the party will focus on the wishes of the ethnic people in the future,” it read. 

The ruling party would work with smaller ethnic parties regardless of how well they performed in Sunday’s election, said the letter, which was signed by NLD vice-chair Dr Zaw Myint Maung and titled “The issue of unity and Myanmar’s future”. 

NLD spokesperson Dr Myo Nyunt told Myanmar Now that although the party has won over 80% of elected seats, it would form a “national unity government” in its next term.

“This is just a rough idea we have. It’ll be a government that puts unity at the forefront. We haven’t materialised anything concrete yet, so I can’t say much more than this,” he said.

“But I can say for sure that it won’t be just our party taking all the control,” he added.

The pledge echoes comments made by President’s Office spokesperson Zaw Htay at a press conference ahead of Sunday’s election. 

Sai Nyunt Lwin, vice-chair of the Shan Nationalities’ League for Democracy (SNLD), one of the parties the letter was addressed to, said he did not believe the NLD would follow through on its promise of a unity government. 

“Maybe they had this way of thinking before the election,” he told Myanmar Now. “But since they’ve won about 85% of seats, I don’t think they’ll hold themselves to it.”

His party has not held any internal discussions about the letter, he added. “I’m still reading it now, we haven’t done anything [about it].”

The NLD has pledged to allow ethnic parties a say in the next government despite its landslide victory on Sunday (Sai Zaw/Myanmar Now)

Relations between ethnic parties and the NLD have soured over the past five years as State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has thrown her support behind several military operations, especially in Rakhine state, and failed to broker a national peace deal as promised. 

Dr Myo Nyunt said he believed the NLD now had the “administrative experience” to work towards ending conflict in Myanmar’s border areas and create “national unity”. 

“That’s why we reached out like this, to continue on this path,” he said.

Among the 48 parties in the letter are the Kachin State People’s Party, the Mon Unity Party, and the Arakan National Party (ANP). The ANP responded angrily last month when voting was cancelled in several areas of Rakhine where it expected to beat the NLD and win seats.  

Parties left out 

The NLD’s original letter only included 39 ethnic parties, excluding among others the Kayah State Democratic Party (KySDP) and the Lisu National Development Party, even though they won seats.

The NLD quickly released an updated version of the letter adding the names of nine more ethnic parties. 

The exclusion of certain parties was not deliberate, Dr Myo Nyunt said. “We’ve named these parties but that doesn’t mean we’re excluding those that weren’t mentioned. We’ll welcome everyone with the same goal should they be open to discussions,” he said.

So far the USDP has won at least 30 seats, the SNLD has won 15, and the ANP has won eight in the Union Parliament. The KySDP has also won eight, while the Mon Unity Party has secured five. 

Dr Myo Nyunt said the party would now hold discussions with ethnic parties, but did not offer further details.

“I just want to say we all have the same goals,” he said. “But sometimes policies have different procedures and approaches.” 

Related Articles

Back to top button