The Democracy and Human Rights Party has expelled more than 1,000 members who are temporary identification card holders because the right of these “white card” holders to be political party members has been removed, the party chairman U Kyaw Min told Mizzima on February 17.
“We have had to expel more than 1,000 members due to the new law. In the 2010 general elections and in the 2012 by-elections, many white card holders could vote. Now we have to expel them,” he said.
In September 2014, the Upper House approved a bill amending the Political Parties Registration Law, so that white card holders can no longer be a member of a political party.
There are estimated to be about 1.5 million white card holders in Myanmar, half of whom are Rohingya or Bengali, as the government refers to them, as well as members of ethnic groups, including Chinese and Indians.
U Kyaw Min said his party does not have members who live in Rakhine State, where most of the Rohingya live.
“Most of our party members are Muslims living in Yangon. Due to security reasons, we did not go to Rakhine State to canvass for our party,” he said.
U Kyaw Min said that all of the members who have been expelled from his party are living in Yangon.
The Union Election Commission has announced that political parties need to scrutinize their party members and expel white card holders according to the new law, and then the parties will have to submit their new list of party members to the UEC by March 9.
National Democratic Force secretary U Nay Min Kyaw told Mizzima that his party does not have white card holders, so it does not need to expel members.
Rakhine National Party’s central executive committee member U Aye Tha Aung said: “Our party comprises of only citizens who have national ID cards. Our party does not have temporary ID card [white card] holders. So we don’t need to change [the formation of our party], and we don’t need to submit a new list of party members to the election commission.”
So far a total of 71 political parties have officially registered in Myanmar in the lead up to the 2015 general elections planned for near the end of the year.