Kachin people living in Shan State have agreed to form a party representing their community following a two-day meeting that began on May 28.
“I think the meeting was 100 percent successful. All participants agreed to form a Kachin political party in Shan State,” said Duwa Tangbau Naw Hkam, a militia leader who will be the provisional leader of the proposed party.
Over 150 Kachin people attended the meeting, including church leaders and local representatives. They also formed a committee after the meeting.
“As a church leader, I think we should have a political party, because we need to protect Kachin people in Shan State,” Duwa Tangbau Naw Hkam told KNG.
Duwa Tangbau Naw Hkam is a Christian pastor in Lashio as well as a militia leader. He is the younger brother of Duwa Tangbau Hkun Myat, who is currently the speaker of the Union parliament’s lower house.
Under Burma’s election law, members of one political party must be independent—meaning that they cannot belong to another party or work for any other organization. This has raised concerns about the proposed new party, as some of its leaders are also militia leaders.
“I am also worried about that. That’s why I spoke to church leaders about it,” Rev. Zau Ra, the secretary of a council of Christian churches in Muse District, told KNG.
“Forming a Kachin political party [in Shan State] is a good idea, but militia leaders are playing a leading role. Some people are worried that they will exercise control over this party in the future,” he said.
However, he added, the militia leaders said they wouldn’t lead the party but just lead Kachin people in Shan State.
“We have already had three meetings discuss formation of this party. The Kachin people will select the leader. We won’t choose people who are already involved in a political party or a militia force. I think the people can depend on this party,” he said.