Politicians call for election postponement

Politicians in Burma say they need more time for campaigning prior to elections this year as recent rumours suggest the polls could be held in October.

US senator Jim Webb, a long-time Burma advocate in the US senate, on Tuesday told an Asia Society forum that “What I’m hearing is that they [elections] will take place…on 10-10-10,” referring to 10 October this year. If true, the date would be in keeping with successive Burmese generals’ fixation on numerology.

But veteran politician and self-styled election observer, Amyotharyay Win Naing, said that if true, he would want the government “to reconsider and postpone the date as long as they can.”

“If elections are held without providing at least eight months to for preparation, elections are much less likely to meet people’s desires and benefit them. So I would like to urge the authorities to postpone the elections, if possible, to 2011 and not 2010.”

Many of the parties entering the elections are still not “properly formed”, said Win Naing, and if elections are held so soon, citizens will be forced to cast votes without understanding specific policies of the parties.

His views were echoed by Aye Lwin, leader of the registered Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics.

“We are [struggling] and if the parties are to be pushed forward into the elections without being given sufficient time, I think this 2010 election will be hard for us.

“If we are to open party offices in 330 townships, just 150 to 200 days are not enough [to finish the job]. Suppose we open one office every day in each town, it will take over 300 days. So frankly, we do need more time.”

Ohn Lwin of the National Political Alliances party said that the group will improvise a strategy according to exisiting political circumstances.

“We can’t just think about what we like with the current situation; we have to move according to the political climate. We will only have perfect elections on the second or third term.

“Previously, we were joking that the elections will be held on 8-8-88, 9-9-99 or 10-10-10. However, we don’t know for sure if [Webb’s prediction] is true or not because the government is very secretive. If true, then we participate [in the elections.] That’s all we aim.”

Currently 42 groups have applied for political party registration to stand in the elections – 32 of whom are new groups – while 31 parties have been approved party formation.

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