The Irrawaddy Burma Election 2010

Home NEWS Regime-backed Parties Flaunt Electoral Law

Regime-backed Parties Flaunt Electoral Law

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The pro-junta USDA and NUP contravene Article 5 (f) of the Party Registration Law by actively recruiting members.

The National Unity Party (NUP) and the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) are actively recruiting party members in Rangoon and other townships, in contravention of Party Registration Law Article 5 (f) which states that political parties may only recruit members after their registration has been approved by the Election Commission (EC).

“They're going from door to door, collecting names of family members, and asking if we want to join their party,” said a retired government official in South Dagon Township in Rangoon on Friday.

According to the state-run media, only two political parties have been approved by the EC to date—the 88 Generation Student Youth (Union of Myanmar) party and the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics party.

To date, 19 political parties, including the NUP, have applied for registration for this year's general election. The USDA has not applied; however, the specter of its recruiting policy raises speculation that the pro-junta civic group will register before the May 6 deadline.

“According to the election law, the USDA has to register with the Election Commission first,” the retired official said. “It's the commission's job to scrutinize and verify the parties. If their applications are accepted, they can begin campaigning. The USDA and the NUP are bypassing this law.”

The NUP is one of three previously existing parties that applied to re-register for the election. The remaining parties, including Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), have not registered and look set to boycott the election, claiming the electoral laws and Constitution are unfair and unjust, and are designed to entrench military rule.

The NUP registered on March 29, but to date has not received approval to register. According to Article 5 (f), accepted parties must sign up at least 1,000 members if they wish to contest the election nationwide (500 for regional parties). Parties may begin canvassing for members only after they have been approved for registration.

Formerly called the Burmese Socialist Programme Party, led by late dictator Gen Ne Win, the NUP won 10 seats in the 1990 general election, finishing fourth behind the NLD, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and the Arakan League for Democracy.

Sources told The Irrawaddy that in Laputta Township in Irrawaddy Division, the USDA is campaigning for members. “Even though they have not even formed a party, they're going around recruiting members,” said one Laputta resident. “They're breaking the laws that they themselves drew up.”

The Irrawaddy reported on Thursday that the USDA and the NUP are seeking ethnic Rohingya support by offering incentives to villagers in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships in northwestern Arakan State.

Since January, immigration officials in Arakan State, in cooperation with USDA and NUP officials,  have begun issuing ID cards to local Rohingya people, so they can vote and form parties to contest the election.

Thu Wai, the leader of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), which applied for registration on March 30, but which is still awaiting approval from the EC, said, “We have not been given permission to set up or organize a party, nor do we have the right to campaign. Even when we have meetings, the authorities come and collect information, such as who is attending the meeting and how many people there are, as well as what subjects are discussed and what decisions are made.”

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday, Aye Lwin, the leader of the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics party, said, “We heard the NUP and the USDA have been eagerly campaigning in some areas. They should follow the election law. Our party cannot recruit people until we are registered.”



Nyan_win80"Once her [Aung San Suu Kyi's] sentence expires in November, and that notion is not disputed, it is our understanding that she will have served her sentence."
—Nyan Win, the foreign minister of Burma


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