‘Many Issues to Be Negotiated’ Before Elections Will Be Considered in Wa Territory

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The United Wa State Party/Army (UWSP/A) has said that many issues remain to be negotiated with the government for voting in Burma’s general election to be able to take place in the UWSA-controlled area.

Leaders from the UWSP/A received officials from Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) in Panghsang town—also known as Pangkham—in late February order to discuss how voting might take place in the Wa self-administered area, which includes six townships.

“We have to solve many things, including the issues of identity cards, family registration and the general population. We need to solve these problems first. After that, many issues remain to be negotiated,” Nyi Rang, who is in charge of the UWSP’s Lashio liaison office in Shan State, told NMG.

In his meeting with Wa officials on February 27, election commission chair Hla Thein proposed that UWSP participate in holding a general election in the Wa areas, Nyi Rang said. At the meeting representing UWSP were vice chairs Xiao Mingliang and Zhao Guo-ann, deputy commander-in-chief Zhao Zhongdang, vice general secretary Pao You Yi.

“They discussed holding the general election in four townships in the Wa self-administrative area,” Nyi Rang told NMG. “Our organization responded that if it would benefit all stakeholders, we would participate in it.”

The Wa National Unity Party has said that while the meeting was a positive step, the possibility that the election being held in the Wa territory remains low.

“It’s really good because the chairman of the UEC went to meet the UWSP. They will understand the situation on the ground,” Nyi Palok, chair of the Wa National Unity Party, told NMG. “It depends on the Wa leaders. If they permit it, the election can be held in the area. Negotiations still remain on many issues, such as identity cards. They have to start from the beginning. In my calculations, it will still be impossible to hold elections in the Wa area.”

He added that it would be possible to hold an election in the Wa territory of the government recognized it as a state, and extended rights to the area as such. It was declared a self-administrative area in 2010, with two districts and six townships; two are under government control and four are under UWSA control. Some 500,000 people live in the UWSA territory.

The Wa National Unity Party won a parliament seat in Metmang Constituency 1 in the Shan State parliament in Burma’s 2015 general election.

The Wa National Unity Party, Wa Democratic Party and Wa Liberal Democratic Development Party are reportedly trying to merge and form a new party, called the Wa National Party.