Myanmar Ruling Party Expects Tough Fight in Coming Elections

2015-07-29
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NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi registers as a candidate in national elections, Yangon, Myanmar, July 29, 2015.
NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi registers as a candidate in national elections, Yangon, Myanmar, July 29, 2015.
AFP

Myanmar’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) sees little chance of an overwhelming victory in national elections scheduled for Nov. 8, as the Southeast Asian nation’s political opposition party shows gains in strength in the run-up to the polls, a party leader said on Wednesday.

“We don’t expect a result from this election like the result we got in 2010,” USDP General Secretary Maung Maung Thein told reporters at a press conference in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon.

“But we do expect that we will be able to form a government based on the election’s results,” he said.

November’s polls are being seen as a key test for Myanmar as it struggles with democratic reforms introduced after the USDP came to power following a 2010 ballot that the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted, and which was widely seen as neither free nor fair.

Reports suggest that voter registration during the 2010 elections was manipulated in favor of the USDP, which consists largely of retired generals and members loyal to Myanmar’s former military regime.

Noting that Myanmar’s President Thein Sein has not yet announced that he will run for a new term as president, Maung Maung Thein said that the USDP has not selected a candidate to represent Thein Sein’s own constituency in the country’s parliament.

“We haven’t put anybody in [to represent] President Thein Sein’s constituency yet,” Maung Maung Thein said. “We just need the president’s decision whether he will contest the election or not.”

Nor has the USDP tagged a candidate to lead Myanmar as president should the party win and Thein Sein give up his post, Maung Maung Thein said.

“The USDP will decide this after we know the election results,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi to run again

The results of November’s poll will determine who holds the seats in Myanmar’s bicameral parliament—based on 330 constituencies for the lower house and 168 constituencies for the upper house—for the next five years.

Both houses will then nominate and vote for a president once the seats are filled.

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD, which won seats in the country’s parliament following by-elections in April 2012, has not run in national elections since 1990, when it won overwhelmingly in a vote whose results were ignored by the then-ruling military junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday registered again as a parliamentary candidate with the election subcommission office in Yangon’s Southern District, the Myanmar newspaper Irrawaddy said on July 29.

The mother of two sons who are British, she is barred from running for the presidency by the terms of a 2008 junta-drafted constitution that excludes candidates whose spouses or children are foreign citizens.

More than 3,000 proposals have meanwhile come in from democracy activists, academics, former political prisoners, and others hoping to run as NLD candidates in the November vote, The Irrawaddy said.

A final list of NLD candidates for seats in parliament will be released late Wednesday, party spokesman Nyan Win said on Monday.

Reported by Wai Mar Tun and Aung Theinkha for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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