Democratic Party welcomes independents

The Democratic Party (DP) is looking to boost strength prior to Burma’s elections this year as it joins forces with eight independent candidates.

The deal will be the first step in elevating Burma to the level of other Southeast Asian nations, DP chairman Thu Wei said in a press conference in Rangoon, where he was joined by independent candidate Yuzar Maw Htun.

“[The eight candidates] also like democracy and are willing to work for the country, but they have no experience [in politics] so they are merging with us who have the experience,” he said.

“Two [groups] is more than one; three will be even better than two. The more, the stronger. By working together, we aim for the good of the nation and only then can we match up to other Southeast Asian nations, otherwise there will be no chance.”

Yuzar Maw Htun, the granddaughter of Dr Ba Maw, who led the provisional government during Japan’s occupation of Burma from 1942 to 1945, said that would be “competing for Hlaing township [in Rangoon] where my parents and grandparents grew up”.

“The Democratic Party is one of the democratic forces and we need the experience of the leaders in the party. Cooperating and negotiating with a party like that will help to create a political force.”

The DP is billed by some as an ‘opposition party’ and by others as part of Burma’s ‘third force’, allied to neither the current government nor the opposition.

Thu Wei said in August that the party would field around 60 candidates; in contrast, the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has put forward nearly 1000, and is expected to have at least one candidate in the vast majority of the country’s 330 constituencies.

Burma will go to the polls on 7 November for the first time in two decades, but critics of the Burmese junta say that pre-election conditions mean it is likely the USDP, which is headed by Burmese prime minister Thein Sein, will win. It is the only party with the financial means to field a candidate in every constituency, while it likely receives the hushed endorsement of Burma’s top brass.

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