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A Shan party registered for the upcoming elections in Burma has been blocked from campaigning for votes in the country’s eastern Karenni state.
The chairman of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), Sai Ai Pao, said that Central Executive Committee members on 28 July were denied entry to Loikaw, capital of Karenni state and near the border with Shan state. The group was blocked by the regional Election Commission (EC) secretary, he added.
“We actually had informed the EC about our campaign before we went there,” said Sai Ai Pao. The group, which is looking to stand in three towns in Karenni state, 40 in Shan state and six in Kachin state, was forced to return to Shan state, with no reason apparently given.
Another Shan-based party, the Wa National Unity Party, is meanwhile looking to compete in four townships in Shan state, populated largely by ethnic Wa whose roots lie in China.
“For now, we are only campaigning in areas reachable by roads,” said Lon Pao, chairman of the WNUP. “We will stand for the elections in Hopang, Tangyan, Lashio and Kengtung. The campaigning so far is going well.”
Parties competing in the elections in Shan state include the government-proxy parties the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the National Unity Party, as well as the opposition National Democratic Force (NDF) and the Union Democracy Party (UDP).
Thirty-eight parties have so far been permitted to run in Burma’s first elections in 20 years, although a date is yet to be set.