More than 70 percent of the first 57 parliamentarians elected in Burma’s controversial elections yesterday belong to the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – the junta proxy widely tipped to sweep the polls.
Fifty-five of the candidates won their seats automatically because they stood uncontested. Two USDP candidates for the lower house People’s Parliament – Aye Pin and Dr Nay Lin – were elected after winning the vote. Current government ministers, including Foreign Minister Nyan Win and Forestry Minister Thein Aung won seats in the regional assemblies, Xinhua reported, while Welfare Minister Maung Maung Swe and Industry Minister Soe Thein took lower house seats.
The names of the 57 candidates were reported in state media today. Included were 12 standing in the People’s Parliament, eight standing in the Nationalities Parliament and 37 standing for regional assemblies.
A total of 40 of the winning candidates came from the USDP. The National Unity Party, the military-backed party representing supporters of Burma’s former leader Ne Win, won one seat.
The Pa-O National Organisation, representing the Pa-O ethnic group from Shan state, and the Taaung (Palaung) National Party, representing the Palaung ethnic group, both won six seats. The Wa Democratic Party – a Wa ethnic party alleged to be close to the junta – won three seats. The Kayin State Democracy and Progressive Party, a pro-junta Karen party, also won one seat.
The elections, Burma’s first in two decades, attracted widespread criticism for complex election laws which favoured the well-funded USDP and NUP parties. The USDP fielded 1,112 candidates and the NUP fielded 999, while the largest democratic party, the National Democratic Force, could afford to field just 163.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, which won the 1990 elections by a landslide, boycotted the polls, in part because political prisoners were forbidden from taking part. Suu Kyi is scheduled to be released from her latest term of house on Saturday.
The atmosphere during yesterday’s polls has been described as muted, with turnout estimates ranging from 40 to 65 percent.