Burma FM ‘guaranteed election win’

Burma’s foreign minister Nyan Win faces no competition in the Pegu division constituency he is running in for the 7 November elections after two other parties withdrew.

Locals in Zigon constituency speculate that the National Unity Party (NUP) and Democratic Party (DP) pulled out because of the stiff competition they’ll face from Nyan Win, who is running for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The junta-backed USDP is fielding candidates in all 1158 constituencies, while the opposition Democratic Party has only 60. Nyan Win is competing in Zigon-1 for the Regions Parliament, one of three parliaments that will convene in post-election Burma.

The news coincides with an announcement by the Election Commission (EC) that only one candidate will run in 54 of the 1158 constituencies in Burma. The head of the EC, Thein Soe, told AP that it is therefore not necessary to hold balloting in those areas.

Steep registration fees for each contestant means that many of the smaller parties cannot field strong competition. In contrast, the USDP, which is headed by Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, has more than 1100 candidates.

Thu Wei, chairperson of the Democratic Party, said that the decision to withdraw was based on financial problems.

“We are only competing for the People’s Parliament in Zigon township. It is mainly because we have no money,” he said. “We didn’t compete for the Nationalities’ Parliament either because we have no candidate for it. It’s not that we were avoiding [competition with Nyan Win].”

But locals in Zigon think otherwise. One man told DVB that, “Although the [NUP and DP] said they were trying to save expenses by not competing as it was obvious they will lose, us residents think they pulled out because they were scared”.

The USDP is widely tipped to win Burma’s first elections in 20 years, despite facing competition from 36 other parties. Its unparalleled financial clout means that it has been able to entice supporters with low-interest loans – an attractive incentive in Burma, where average wages hover around $US220 a year.

The winners of the last elections in 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD), opted to boycott the polls on account of restrictive election laws that ban party leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for office.

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