Committee members of the three ethnic Mon political parties have agreed in a planning meeting Thursday to join civil society representatives for another
round of discussions to develop a framework for the parties’ unification.Three registered Mon political parties currently operate in Mon State: the Mon National Party (MNP), All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMDP), and Women’s Party (Mon). Before the 2015 election, ethnic Mon activists, monks and civil society organizations met several times, unsuccessfully, to secure the parties’ merger. Now, after last year’s election results handed resounding losses to most Mon party candidates, the campaign to unite the three parties has been reinvigorated.
“For us, we have been waiting since after we released the statement [about uniting]. But, the other parties did not say anything yet. In my opinion, we owe much gratitude to the group that is working to unify the parties. But I think the parties’ board members should meet, to be official,” said Nai Layih Tamarh, General Secretary of the MNP.
Attendees of Thursday’s meeting also deliberated whether initiation of the merger should be driven by a bottom-up or top-down approach led by central committee members. They reportedly hoped to set up a framework for unification at the next round of meetings, scheduled for February 18.
“Prior to this moment, [AMDP] has not joined meetings about this topic. We are working on our own and have not had a meeting yet. So, for the party, it is difficult for me to speak out since we have not yet decided about unifying the party,” said Nai Chan Toy, Vice-chairman of the AMDP.
The meeting on January 21 was the third in a series of discussions among political party representatives and ethnic Mon civil society members who are eager to establish a single, official Mon party that they say will have a better chance against opposition candidates.
“Our party always welcomes the parties’ unification. If we are invited, we will participate. It is important for the parties’ board members to know how valuable it is to have understanding [between them]. I believe it depends on the public’s wishes whether to disband the parties and then form a new, single party,” said Mi Than Shin, Chairwoman of the Women’s Party (Mon).
On January 14, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) also met with members of the Mon sangha, or community of monks, and released a statement committing to working towards merging the Mon political parties.