SNLD says leader’s retirement won’t affect election chances 

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) has said the retirement of its leader in the midst of an election campaign will not harm the party’s chances at the polls on November 8.

Khun Htun Oo, 77, announced on Sunday that he is resigning as party chair because of his age and because he wants to give a new generation the chance to lead.

The announcement came amid rumours – denied by the party – that the chair had had a dispute over party policy with other senior members. 

SNLD spokesperson Sai Kyaw Nyunt said the party’s central executive committee was yet to officially relieve Khun Htun Oo of his duties. 

“Currently, he is still the chair,” he told Myanmar Now. “[He] has just expressed his desire to retire, and we are all respectful of his wish.”

He added: “Our candidates will keep doing campaigns in their respective constituencies. And they still perceive him as our chair.”

Khun Htun Oo had been leading the party’s 30-member central campaign committee for this year’s election.

But his retirement would not affect the party’s chances in November, Sai Kyaw Nyunt said.

“Since we are always doing our best to have the best policies, there is no chance his retirement will have much of an effect on our election results,” he said.

Khun Htun Oo is a founding member of the SNLD and has led the party for more than 30 years. He stood to be an MP in the 1990 election and won in Hsipaw, but never took his seat because the regime annulled the election. 

The SNLD gained 22 other seats in the 1990 poll, making it the second most successful party after the National League for Democracy.

Khun Htun Oo was imprisoned in 2005 along with other Shan leaders for treason, defamation, and inciting dissatisfaction toward the government. 

Several western governments and Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience while he was in jail. He was released in an amnesty in 2011 as Myanmar began its political transition. 

Khun Htun Oo first publicly expressed his desire to step back from politics in 2018. But he was nonetheless re-elected as chair by party members the next year.  

He did not answer calls from Myanmar Now on Monday seeking comment. 

The SNLD will fight for 131 seats this year in Shan, Kayah, and Kachin states, and in Mandalay region. 

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