The Federal Union Party hopes to take advantage of ethnic minority populations in majority Burmese areas to compete against the major parties in the 2015 election, its deputy leader says.

The party was formed by 19 ethnic minority parties in December 2013 to ensure minorities in the seven Burmese-dominated regions have an ethnic candidate to vote for in future elections.

Deputy leader U Sao Thar Oo said the party hoped to win support from communities such as the Kayin in the Ayeyarwady Region and Shan in Yangon Region to challenge the National League for Democracy and Union Solidarity and Development Party.

“We aim to represent them and speak out about their rights and needs,” he said at the opening of the party’s upper Myanmar office in Mandalay earlier this month.

“We are not advocating secession from the nation; we just want leadership that is in line with our culture and traditions.”

U Sao Thar Oo quit from the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party to become one of the founding members of the FUP. Under election rules, a person cannot be a member of more than one party.

Secretary U Soe Min Latt, who resigned along with 25 other members from the Inn National Development Party to join the FUP, said the new party would emphasise the importance of unity between minority groups.

The party was formed in December 2013 and has 1200 members.