Lions cannot afford to loose
Numerically, the 48 seats to be contested on April Fool’s Day are nothing to the rulling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), whose logo is the lion, that has a comfortable majority in both houses. But politically, losing them would be disastrous, according to sources coming from Burma.
“First of all, the seats to be contested are vacated by the people who have become president, vice presidents and ministers,” one highly informed source explained. “Losing them therefore would not be good both for them and the party.”
Another reason, said the second source, is that many of the seats are in “strategic” areas. For example, Lashio, where the National Assembly seat is being contested among 3 parties: USDP, National League for Democracy (NLD) and Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), is where the Northeastern Region Command is headquartered.
SHAN has received a number of reports that Burma Army-run militia chiefs in the area have been threatening residents with expulsion if they refused to vote for the USDP candidate, Dr Keng Phawng Tip.
“Last but not least is losing the 48 seats to the NLD will have far-reaching impact on the 2015 elections,” the first source said. “There’ll be 498 seats (168 upper house, 330 lower house) to lose, not counting the state/region assembly seats (almost 700) by them.”
“The lions simply cannot afford to lose,” he concluded.
Their disclosures coincided with the February 28 article from the Irrawaddy reporting on the USDP’s highly-confidential strategy to defeat the NLD at the upcoming polls. It includes instructions such as:
- Character assassination of rival candidates
- Polling officers and booth attendants must be befriended and won over. Assistance must be given to them to meet their economic and social needs
Meanwhile, Mizzima News reported on 2 March the NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was facing problems obtaining venues to hold rallies in the USDP’s heartland, Naypyitaw. According to the report, she was denied permission in two of its townships: Pobbhathiri and Zabuthiri.
Vice President #1 Tin Aung Myint Oo was elected by Pobbhathiri township and President Thein Sein by Zabuthiri.