Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kachin Leader Applies for USDP Membership

Manam Tuja, the former vice chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and a leader of the Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP), applied to become a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), according to a  KSPP source. The USDP is the Burmese junta's proxy party.
“I heard the news from the radio, but most senior members of the [KSPP] party didn’t apply for membership in the USDP. I don’t want to ask Tuja because I feel uncomfortable with the news,” said Tu Raw, the KSPP secretary, who added that he did not know if other KSPP members joined Tuja in applying to join the USDP.
Tu Raw said that Tuja had already resigned from the KSPP, and he understood that Tuja applied to become a member of the USDP because the party could help him in the future.
“I don’t want to criticize his decision. That is his right, but I will never follow his way to solve political problems,” said Tu Raw.
Manam Tuja
Tuja formed the KSPP in March 2009 and officially launched the party in July of that year. However, Burma's Election Commission didn’t approve its registration for the 2010 election because authorities believed the KSPP had ties with the KIO, which is the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic armed group.Lapai Naw Din, an editor with the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, told The Irrawaddy that Tuja damaged his political reputation by applying for USDP membership.
However, some observers doubt that Tuja applied for USDP membership, and the KSPP told the KIO that just because authorities collected Tuja's biographical information doesn't mean that he applied for membership in the USDP, said sources close to the KIO.
“The reputation of the KIA will also suffer if Tuja applied for USDP membership. Although he does not have ties with the KIA now, he once served in a leadership role in the organization,” said a KIO source.
Meanwhile, three township officers from the KIO were arrested in Hpkant and Myintkyina townships in Kachin State on Thursday, according to the KIO.
“There are negotiations taking place with Burmese officials at the district level,” said the KIO source.

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