NLD reprimands MP for Wa trip

NAY PYI TAW — A National League for Democracy representative has been sacked from a parliamentary committee for leading an unauthorised mission to meet Myanmar’s most powerful ethnic armed group.

U Soe Htay, a former military officer and Pyithu Hluttaw representative from Kayin State, confirmed yesterday that he had been reprimanded after he returned from the United Wa State Army capital of Panghsang, where he met senior officials from the group. However, he said he had not been dismissed from the party.

The MP met U Xiao Ming Lian, deputy chair of the UWSA, on April 28. They reportedly discussed the upcoming Union Peace Conference, and government plans to bring groups that have not signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement, including the UWSA, into the peace process.

“I went there on a peace-related fact-finding trip without asking permission,” he told Frontier in Nay Pyi Taw.

U Soe Htay has been replaced on the committee by Saw Victor Khalaik, who won a seat for the NLD in Kayin State’s Thandaunggyi.

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As well as removing him from the Pyithu Hluttaw Ethnic Affairs Committee, the party also decreed that he not be given any new responsibilities for a year.

The UWSA is the strongest of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups, with a well-equipped army estimated at 20,000 troops.

The group has previously demanded that it be granted its own state. However, this would require a constitutional amendment, as the charter currently gives the Wa a self-administered division within Shan State covering six townships.

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