'Third force' party to reconsider Burma elections

Jan 12, 2010 (DVB), A Burmese political party will reconsider its decision to enter this year's elections if the announcement date of the electoral laws does not leave sufficient time to campaign, the party chairman said.

The Democratic Party, part of the 'third force' in Burmese politics in which parties are not aligned either to the incumbent government or opposition groups, includes Than Than Nu, the daughter of Burma's first civilian prime minister, U Nu.

The party's chairperson, Thu Wei, said yesterday that groups eyeing the elections were not being given sufficient time to prepare, with the laws surrounding participation yet to be made public.

"Also we expect that the election laws will impose a lot of restrictions and limitations which will leave more groups and people unable to participate," he said, adding that he thought there would be fewer parties contesting the polls than in 1990, Burma's last elections.

The Democratic Party had previously written a letter to junta leader Than Shwe urging the announcement of election laws, which includes the formation of political parties.

The Burmese government is yet to announce the date of elections, although information leaked by a Japanese newspaper last week reported that the military generals were planning to hold them in October.

It also said that electoral laws would be announced in April, around the time of Burmese New Year. This would allow parties only six months to campaign.

A number of 'third force' politicians have announced that different restrictions on freedom to campaign were being granted to different groups, depending on their alignment to the ruling junta.

Others have given mixed reports about their ability to prepare for what critics of the junta believe to be sham elections aimed at cementing military rule in Burma.

"On political grounds, we can say we are ready as our ideology and political view is now spreading among the public," said Aye Lwin, from the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics.

Nay Myo Wei, from the Union Democracy Alliance, said that his party was "in the front row, We are in a strong position with our belief and work procedures."

Burma's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), is yet to announce whether it will participate. It won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, but the junta refused to recognize the results, and instead placed NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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