SNLD boycotts meeting with military council’s election commission

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) will not be attending a meeting with a new election commission formed by Myanmar’s ruling junta, the party said on Wednesday.

Sai Lek, the secretary general of the influential ethnic party, told Myanmar Now that the decision was made after a meeting of the party’s central executive committee.

“The junta’s actions contradict the SNLD’s political stance and ambitions. That’s why we’re declining the invitation from its election commission. We boycott their actions and condemn them,” he said.

The SNLD has also refused other offers from the new military council, he added.

A newly formed election commission is scheduled to meet with registered political parties in Naypyitaw on Friday. It will be the first such meeting since the military seized power from the elected government on February 1.

Other ethnic parties, including the Ta’ang National Party, the Arakan League for Democracy, and the Union Pa-O National Organization, have also declined invitations to attend the meeting.

“Our party is built on the values of democracy. The decision is made after all members of the central executive committee held a meeting,” Tar Kyaw Aung, the secretary of the Ta’ang National Party, told Myanmar Now.

The Democratic Party for a New Society and the People’s Party, formed by former student leader Ko Ko Gyi and other veterans of the 1988 uprising against military rule, have also announced that they will not be attending the meeting.

It is widely expected that most of the attendees at the meeting on Friday will be representatives of the 34 parties that met with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the new military council, on August 14, 2020, ahead of last year’s election.

The Kachin State People’s Party, formed by four small Kachin-based political parties, said that it would be at the meeting.

Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, the party’s vice-chair, said that the decision to attend was made after a meeting of 12 members of its central executive committee.

“There were some who opposed the invitation and others who proposed that we go. The majority agreed to accept the invitation, so we’ll go. We also decided at the meeting to inform our party members of this decision,” he said.

“I personally objected to the invitation, but since the majority agreed to accept it, my proposal was not successful,” he added.

“Regardless of whether we attend this meeting or not, we always stand with the public. I would just like to say this doesn’t mean we acknowledge the coup,” he said, noting that the party has twice rejected offers to join the ruling military council.

A new Union Election Commission, chaired by military appointee Thein Soe, was formed by the junta a week after the coup to replace the one led by Hla Thein, who was accused of allowing electoral fraud in last year’s election.

After the coup, the military formed the State Administrative Council, which in addition to military appointees includes members of a number of minor opposition parties.

Among the parties represented in the new ruling council are the People’s Pioneer Party, the Kayin People’s Party, the New National Democratic Party, and the New Democratic Force.

Nationwide protests against the coup have continued for weeks, as demands grow for the regime to respect the results of last year’s election, which the National League for Democracy won in a landslide.

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