Dispute erupts between opposition parties

A fiery dispute has erupted between two prominent Burmese political parties over a deal made to share constituencies for elections in two months.

The deal would have seen the National Democratic Force (NDF) and the Diversity and Peace Party (DPP) share constituencies in an effort to avoid overlapping of candidates, as well as preventing the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) from dominating the elections.

But, according to the DPP, the deal has soured after the opposition NDF reneged on the pledge and instead “expanded its territories”.

“The NDF previously told us to fill in the [constituencies] they couldn’t cover so the USDP won’t get a chance to dominate all the constituencies in the country,” said Nay Myo Wei, general secretary of the DPP.  “But later, [the NDF] has expanded its territories [into the DPP’s areas]. They called themselves our ally yet they broke the promise.”

He added that the deal was an attempt to “bring down centralism” in Burma, which has been under military rule for nearly 50 years.

The NDF was formed in May from senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which had been Burma’s most prominent opposition party prior to its dissolution earlier this year.

The party is looking to contest around 140 seats in the 330-seat parliament, while the Diversity and Peace Party will challenge for eight.

Several parties have already warned that high registration fees and repressive election laws could force them to significantly reduce the number of candidates put forward.

The NDF has already announced that its leader, Khin Maung Swe, will not be appealing a ban on him contesting the elections, and so has withdrawn – as a former NLD MP-elect who spent 15 years in prison, he is prohibited from running.

Dr Than Nyein, chairman of the NDF, said that there had been “no such agreement apart from an attempt to make things convenient between each other”.

“You can think for yourself whether it would be appropriate to ask other parties to pull out from constituencies just because your party wants to compete for those places,” he said, adding that the DPP is “not the only democratic party participating in the elections”.

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