Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) today unveiled its candidates for the general election in November, listing 1,147 nominees to contest 1,171 seats nationwide in Upper House, Lower House and regional assembly constituencies.
As expected, President Thein Sein is not listed. He announced last month in a letter to House Speaker Shwe Mann that he would not seek re-election due to ailing health. However, many observers have been quick to point out that neither the president nor vice-presidents need be elected MPs, leaving the door open for Thein Sein to be nominated for a second term as president.
USDP General Secretary Maung Maung Thein told a party gathering on Wednesday that of the 1,147 candidates the USDP is fielding, 320 will compete for the House of Representatives (Lower House); 166 for the House of Nationalities (Upper House); and 632 for State or Division Parliament.
A further 29 candidates will stand for selection as ‘National Race’ representatives, an anomaly within Burma, which – as per the country’s 2008 constitution – entitles ethnic groups “with a suitable population” outside their own state or self-administrative area to a representative in state or regional parliaments.
USDP Chairman Shwe Mann will compete as a Lower House candidate in Phyu Township, while Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham will compete in Lashio, Shan State, also for a seat in the House of Representatives.
The USDP candidate list includes 26 former military officers. Sixteen of the listed candidates are incumbent government ministers, 22 are deputy ministers, and 36 are central executive committee members.
The candidate list also includes 72 women.
The USDP said it will not contest seats in certain constituencies in special autonomous regions, such as the Wa, Kokang and Mongla areas, where it says it has made agreements with local parties not to compete directly against them.
Addressing the party faithful on Wednesday, Shwe Mann called on USDP members to abide by the law and contest the polls in a clean and transparent manner. He also predicted that the USDP would overwhelmingly win the election.
“Victory for the party is our first priority!” he proclaimed. “Victory for the party is our main objective! Victory for the party is the way forward! We can say that winning the general election is our first, second and third priorities!”
Meanwhile, the USDP’s Kyaw Zin Hein has been given the unenviable task of competing against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Kawhmu Township for a Lower House seat.
In an interview with DVB, he said he expected a tough race.
Asked about what he would do if elected, Kyaw Zin Hein said, “I would prioritise local development, since our neighbourhood is underdeveloped. It needs many more roads, bridges, canals and irrigation systems. Transportation is very important. We have much to do.”
Read Kyaw Zin Hein’s interview on www.dvb.no tomorrow