USDP 'blackmailing' their way to electoral success

The military government’s proxy political party the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) are encouraging people to become members by blackmail and enticements in Rangoon and Mandalay, according to locals.

A resident in Mandalay told DVB that the USDP in the capital of central of Burma, Mandalay were coercing waiters, originally from other towns, at restaurants to join the party.

“Most [the waiters] are from other towns so they need to have guest-registrations to live and work in Mandalay. They were pressured via employers to join the USDP if they want the registration,” said the resident under condition of anonymity.

He said illegal two-digit and three-digit lottery sellers were also being blackmailed to join the party or else face criminal charges, adding that they were asked to sign ‘already-filled out’ party membership forms.

The USDP is headed by current Prime Minister Thein Sein and was formed out of the controversial military based ‘mass movement’ called the Union Solidarity Defense Association (USDA) . It gained notoriety after its alleged involvement in 2003s Depayin Massacre, in which at least 70 National League for Democracy (NLD) members were killed by a well-coordinated and well-armed mob. It was reformed as a political party earlier in the year to contest the upcoming elections, but has been dogged by allegations of foul play using its millitary backing and subsequent financial muscle to attract voters, including last month’s revelation that it was offering potential members low rate loans.

Locals in the former capital, Rangoon, meanwhile said the USDP members were going from door-to-door in suburban townships including Seik Khanaungto and Dala, persuading people over the age of 18 to join them with free USDP membership cards which they promised could give them more freedom to travel around the country and help them find jobs as well as less difficulty in guest registrations (by law residents are required to register any overnight guests with their local council).

Additional reporting by Aye Nai

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