Friday, January 30, 2009

Veteran Shan politician preparing to contest 2010 election

By Nem Davies

New Delhi (Mizzima) - A veteran ethnic Shan politician, Shwe Ohn on Thursday said he and his friends have formed a group that will be transformed into a political party to contest the ensuing 2010 general elections.

Shwe Ohn, in an interview to Mizzima said, he and his colleagues based on the spirit of federalism and democracy had chosen a party name – the Union Democratic Alliance. And on January 26 formed an eight-member organising committee that would work for the formation of the party.

"We have formed it with the aim to represent all groups of people including the Burmans. We will represent 135 ethnic groups. We have sent a letter to Naypyitaw expressing our intention to turn the group into a political party," Shwe Ohn said.

While there has been no response so far from Naypyitaw, Shwe Ohn said once the authorities allow the group to form, they would welcome all communities and ethnic groups to become members.

Shwe Ohn had earlier served as an advisor to an ethnic alliance party – the United Nationalities League for Democracy – which the junta later banned.

In 2005, Shwe Ohn was arrested by the junta along with other ethnic Shan leaders including Hkun Tun Oo and Sai Nyunt Lwin, who are respectively chairman and secretary of the Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD).

Though the government later released Shwe Ohn, (86) the junta continued to detain Hkun Tun Oo and Sai Nyunt Lwin.

Shwe Ohn was an observer at the historic 'Panglong agreement', where ethnic leaders and representatives along with Burma's Independence architect General Aung San together signed an agreement to form a federal Union.

Despite his age, Shwe Ohn contiues to actively engage himself in politics and has regular contacts and interactions with other politicians.

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