USDP ‘foreigners’ resign their seats

The Burmese junta’s perennial fear of foreign influence in the country reared its head again last week after two members of its proxy election-winning party were forced to quit their parliamentary seats.

While details surrounding the resignation of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) members Cho Nwe Oo and Ahunt Gyi remain murky, fellow MPs have speculated that it may be related to their holding of a Foreign Registration Card (FRC).

Burmese law dictates that parliamentary members must be born of Burmese parents, and cannot be someone “who owes allegiance to a foreign government, or [is] subject to a foreign government or a citizen of a foreign country”.

Cho Nwe Oo’s resignation took place on Friday last week. Until then she had been one of only a handful of female USDP representatives and a member of the Public Accounts Committee in the Nationalities Parliament.

Both are believed to have fathers of Chinese origin, a detail which is flagged up on their Burmese identity cards. Quite how they initially made it into parliament is unclear, given the rigour with which Burmese intelligence normally vets its political players.

Also of Chinese origin is Khin Nyunt, Burma’s former prime minister and intelligence chief who was purged in 2004 by Than Shwe and placed under house arrest, where he remains.

The law banning those with foreign relations from entering parliament however appears to be concentrated largely on banishing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma’s political arena, as well as stirring nationalistic resentment of the country’s leading icon and key threat to the junta’s grip on power.

The 65-year-old Nobel laureate had been married to the late British scholar, Michael Aris, who died in 1999. They have two children, Kim and Alexander Aris, both of whom are British passport holders.

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