Kachin ceasefire groups to contest 2010 election

Mar 5, 2009 (DVB), Kachin ceasefire groups have set up a committee to form a political party, the Kachin State Progressive Party, in lieu of contesting the 2010 election.

The committee, led by Kachin Independence Organisation vice-chairman Dr. Tuja, is not affiliated to the KIO, joint secretary Colonel Goon Maw said, who confirmed that the KIO has no plans to form a party, nor contest the election.

"What our vice-chairman Dr. Tuja is doing is willing the existence of a party that represents Kachin people in Kachin state," he said.

"It is a preliminary committee for the emergence of the party; it includes armed groups and some interested local people."

According to sources from the China-Burma border, the committee is made up of Dr. Tuja, and Major's Manchan Thein Saung and Phone Ram of the KIO splinter group, New Democracy Army-Kachin.

"We don’t know the attitudes of other groups, but as for the KIO, we will continue to maintain the status quo," said Goon Maw.

"Whether it is the KIO or Dr. Tuja or anyone that has the desire to take part in party politics, he or she has to quit the KIO."

The government has stated that all ceasefire groups must disarm and form political parties if they are to contest the elections.

"The subject of the arms needs to be discussed slowly," said Goon Maw.

"I don’t think they will do it in a hurry. We have no separate views on the election, but we constantly watch the participation of the people in the emerging situation."

Committee members have been rallying people in towns throughout Kachin state, Goon Maw added.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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