The largest and most successful political party in Shan State, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), celebrated its 28th anniversary on Wednesday.
Photo SHAN- the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy’s chairman Khun Htun Oo speaks at the 28th anniversary ceremony in Yangon.
Speaking at a ceremony in Yangon, SNLD Chairman Khun Htun Oo said that the party has faced both good and bad days over the past 28 years, but is now mature enough to work towards for the betterment of the people.
Khun Htun Oo was in 2005 sentenced to 93 years in prison on trumped-up charges, including treason and defamation. He was released in 2012 in a presidential amnesty towards political prisoners.
“Now 28 years old, if the SNLD were a person we would say that it is entering an age when it should be energetic and ready,” Khun Htun Oo said. “Undoubtedly we have faced good days and bad days; we have had our ups and downs. Throughout that time, some have sacrificed for the sake of the nation but some have also betrayed.”
The party chairman concluded: “There is still a long way to go. We need to hold hands in order to reach our goal. We will learn the lessons of the past 28 years and use them in the future to help us achieve our goal with less difficulty.”
Khun Htun Oo also urged his party members and supporters to take part in the ongoing peace process. He told his audience that Burma is facing many challenges, including those in the political arena and on the battleground; nonetheless, he emphasized, it is the SNLD’s duty to work towards peace in the country.
Founded on October 21, 1988, the party’s main policy has always been to serve the interests of the Shan people. The SNLD has stated that it is against the 2008 constitution, but that its ultimate goal is a federal system with eight states.
The SNLD won the second highest number of seats across the country in the 1990 general election – results which went unrecognized by the then ruling military junta.
In the 2010 general election, the SNLD joined Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in boycotting the polls.
In 2012, following constitutional and government reforms, several SNLD leaders were among a number of political prisoners released. The SNLD was thereafter permitted to operate legally and re-register for elections.
In the general election of November last year, the SNLD, also known locally as the Tiger Head Party, won the fourth largest number of seats in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw [Assembly of the Union]. It was also the second most successful party elected in the Shan State parliament.
In total, the SNLD claimed three seats in the Upper House; 12 seats in the Lower House; and 26 seats in State and Regional assemblies (25 in Shan State; one in Kachin State).
At the anniversary ceremony on Wednesday, party chairman Khun Htun Oo also noted that the SNLD was preparing to contest next April’s bi-election, and urged all party members to look at their weaknesses and work for the good of the people.
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