The Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP), officially formed earlier this year through a merger of former rival Kachin parties, held a ceremony in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina on Monday to introduce itself to the public.
The ceremony, which took place at the Majoi Hall in Myitkyina’s Manau Park, marked the start of the party’s political activities, according to KSPP leaders.
“After we introduce our party to the public, we will start our activities. We are going to form township organizing committees in all 18 townships in Kachin State and open branch offices in each township. We will start our activities very soon. We will have to select over 50 candidates,” the party’s vice-chairman 2, Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, told KNG.
The party says it will contest all seats Kachin State in both the upper and lower houses of the Union parliament as well as in the state parliament. It has pledged to be inclusive of all ethnicities, and during the ceremony, which attracted around 500 people from across Kachin State, members of the state’s Bamar, Shanni, and Rakhine communities joined the party.
“I have never been a member of any political party, but I thought a lot about joining this party. I like its political platform and its rules and regulations. I like its policies, such as its gender policy. People of different backgrounds can apply for membership. I also like its policy on federalism. This party will implement the Panglong promises. That’s why I applied to join,” said Tin Nyunt, the chairman of the Mohgoung Township Shanni Literature and Culture Committee.
The KSPP was formed after the successful merger of the Kachin Democratic Party (KDP), the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP), and the Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State (UDPKS).
In January of last year, four Kachin-based parties—the KDP, the KSDP, the Kachin National Congress (KNC), and the Lawwor National Unity and Development Party (LNUDP)—held a meeting at the YMCA hall in Myitikyina to discuss the possibility of forming a single party.
Three of the parties—all except the LNUDP—agreed to merge and their leaders signed a memorandum of understanding.
This was followed by a meeting of the Kachin National Advisory at the Majoi Hall on April 10, 2018. At that meeting, the UDPKS agreed to join the new party, and a 17-member public committee was formed to decide on the party’s name, flag and seal.
The KNC later withdrew from the merger plan because its leaders didn’t want to dissolve their party, but according to the KSPP’s chairman, Dr. Manam Tu Ja, around 120 former KNC members have since joined the new party.
Besides the KNC and the LNUDP, several other Kachin-based parties, including the Lisu National Development Party and the United Nationalities Federal Democracy Party, have decided not to join the KSPP for various reasons.
The KSPP will be the largest Kachin political party vying for votes in Kachin State against the ruling National League for Democracy and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in next year’s elections.