Voters in Karen State will have a choice of voting four political parties in the elections on 7 November 2010. A voter in Pa-an Township says that three of the contesting parties’ close association with the ruling military regime taints them.
Saw Gyi* claims are supported by the concerned parties’ electoral information. The Union Solidarity and Development Party leader is the military regime’s current Prime Minister and a former senior military officer, the National Unity Party’s leader is a former army Chief-of-Staff and the Karen State Democracy and Development Party was formed by the regime’s current Information Minister, who is also an army general.
The only political party without close regime connections, which is contesting the election in Karen state is the Plone-S’gaw Democratic Party, and Saw Gyi says he prefers it as it does not have any association with the regime and is grass root based.
Saw Gyi says the other political parties are regime fronts and will act as ‘yes men’.
“They will do what they are ordered to do. These people will not represent the real interests of the people or the country. I’m concerned if the Plone-S’gaw Democratic Party wins, these parties will sabotage the result and intimidate the PSDP candidates.”
The current chairperson of the Plone-S’gaw Democratic Party is the only one of the four, who has any connection with the local Karen community and its chairman, Saw Khin Maung Myint says.
“Before we formed this party we campaigned in the community about if they wanted a Karen political party. The response was positive. It’s up to the community to select their PSDP candidate, not party officials.”
Saw Gyi says the regime’s 2008 Constitution has already guaranteed the military dictatorship 25 per cent of the seats in the election.
“They’re taking no chances. Three out of the four parties have close regime connections, this also favour the government. The head of the Election Commission, Saw Aung Pwint, is also closely connected to the NUP.”
There will be seven electorates contested by all the four parties in the November 7 elections.
*name has been changed to protect the source