The Burmese military regime is going to great lengths to ensure its proxy civilian party, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), wins the election on 7th November.
Opposition parties in Shan state have accused local authorities of giving unfair advantage to the USDP by closing down printing, computer, CD and video, motor repair and photocopying shops owned by members of the SNDP in Mongpan township.
A SNDP candidate said local authorities were only attacking businesses with links to SNDP.
“Computer shops owned by the USDP were left alone and were not closed down. The authorities are using double standards. They threatened shops with closure and ordered them not to print or copy for any [political] parties other than the USDP.”
A local villager from Monghsu explained just how far local authorities are prepared to go to help the USDP.
“Local authorities told us we couldn’t rent out our houses to members of other political parties, only to the USDP.”
In a clear breach of the electoral laws, USDP candidates have been bad-mouthing the SNDP and spreading lies about their members. Naw Kham Oo the chairman of the Lashio USDP told residents of E Nai village that if they voted for the SNDP they would be in danger. A local farmer said Naw Kham warned villages a vote for SNDP was a waste.
“Naw Kham told us if we voted for the USDP we would be safe but a vote for the SNDP was a vote for an armed group and it would be dangerous for us.”
A businesswoman confirmed what the farmer claimed and said the USDP’s chairman’s speech promoted ill-feeling and division among people.
“Naw Kham Oo claimed the SNDP is not a party that represents the interests of all the people in Shan state and it was only interested in Shan nationals.”
Naw Kham told the villagers they should vote for the USDP, as they were the only party that represented all ethnic people.
Members of the SNDP say the USDP are clearly breaking the electoral laws but local authorities are choosing to ignore and instead are going out of their way to help them to gain an advantage over the smaller parties.
SNDP members traveling to campaign in Karenni State were forced to stop by local authorities and turned back citing a clause from the electoral laws.
SNDP members were told they were not allowed to travel because they had broken an electoral law ‘cross border law’. According to SNDP information officer, Sai Tun Aye, they had been forced to turn back because they had violated ‘section 2/2010’.
The SNDP said local authorities were not treating parties equally.“We tried to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against the USDP about their actions, but we were dismissed. We were told we had to provide evidence, documents, tapes, place, names and dates – and if we didn’t – the EC would regard our complaint as ‘unfounded allegations’.