Chiang Mai: Twelve ethnic parties urged the people today to unanimously cast the 'No' vote in the referendum to approve the constitution. The 12 parties belong to the United Nationalities Association' (UNA) an umbrella group.
It said that the constitution is not drafted by people's representatives but by the junta and it is designed so that the central government is controlled and manipulated by the junta. It cannot guarantee the emergence of a genuine federal country with a democratic essence. So the parties urged the people to cast the 'No' vote with full of political consciousness and awareness in this historical referendum.
"Now the people are divided over which vote to cast in the referendum. Some are concerned over their fate after the referendum if they vote 'No'. So we issued this statement for all the people", Pu Cin Sian Thang, the leader of Zomi National Congress (ZNC) said.
"Democracy loving voters will have such a rare chance in their whole life only once. We would like them to exercise their franchise boldly and cast the 'No' vote in the referendum.
The voters should not worry about the junta's reprisal after the referendum. Don't think of the post referendum scenario. We have a Plan B even if the junta manages to convert all the 'No votes to 'Yes' votes. So we would like to urge the people to cast the 'No' vote," he added.
The 12 parties said that the people should think of the probable dire consequences if they refrain from going to polling stations and abstain in this referendum out of fear. This will indirectly support the junta, they warned.
The parties also profoundly urged the people to be present at the polling stations at both the opening and closing times to watch the vote counting and voting irregularities in accordance with the junta's Referendum Law.
"This constitution has many weaknesses. (1) It has no democratic essence. (2) It will not benefit anyone. (3) It will perpetuate military dictatorship. So we would like to urge the people in all nooks and corners of the country to cast the 'No' vote in the referendum," U Ohn Tin from Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) said.
This statement was issued by 'United Nationalities Association' (UNA) includes Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD) and ALD which won 23 and 11 seats respectively in the 1990 general election.
UNA is a multi-ethnic party group comprised of the SNLD, Mon National League for Democracy, ZNC, ALD, Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), Karen National League for Democracy, Kachin Nationality Democratic Congress, Kayah State Nationalities League for Democracy, Kayan Nationality League for Unity and Democracy, Mara People's Party, Shan State Kokang Democratic Party and Rakhine Democratic United Party. All these parties except Shan and Kokang parties have already been deregistered by the junta.