Ceasefire groups discuss election participation

Dec 19, 2008 (DVB), Three major armed ethnic ceasefire groups held a meeting in Rangoon earlier this month to discuss whether to take part in the 2010 election, according to a source close to the groups.

Representatives of Shan State Army-North, the New Mon State Party and the Kachin Independence Organisation met on 10 December, according to a source who did not wish to be identified.

They also reportedly discussed whether to contest the election as independent candidates or on behalf of their organisations.

The SSA-N refused to comment on the report when contacted by DVB, but NMSP spokesperson Nai Aung Ma Ngae said that his party had not made plans to contest the election."I don’t know the situation of other groups," Nai Aung Ma Ngae said.

"Our group has no plans to take part in the election – it will be made clear after our congress," he said.

"At the moment it is not certain that we will take part."

In July, Nai Aung Ma Ngae said the NMSP had not yet been approached by the regime about forming a political party for the 2010 elections, but noted that the group had withdrawn from the National Convention and spoken out against the referendum and constitution.

There was no response from the KIO to claims that KIO vice-chair Dr Tuja will quit the group and stand in the election as an independent candidate.

The KIO signed ceasefire agreement with the SPDC in 1994, while the SSA-N and the NMSP signed accords in 1995.

Reporting by Nam Kham Kaew

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