Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has filed a formal complaint about President Thein Sein apparently campaigning on behalf of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) during official visits across the country in his presidential capacity.
DVB has received a copy of the letter sent by the NLD to the Union Election Commission (UEC) on Monday, in which it lists dates and places of the president’s appearances where he was greeted by crowds wearing USDP bandanas and carrying the party’s flags.
Photographs of these events have been taking up the front pages of government-backed newspapers in recent weeks.
State-run media on Tuesday carried front-page photos of Thein Sein visiting Mrauk-U in Arakan State, where he was greeted by USDP supporters who were decked in green USDP hats and t-shirts.
According to the 2008 Burmese constitution, the president and vice-presidents are prohibited from involvement in party activities. The NLD’s letter alleges that Thein Sein has violated this regulation by scheduling photo-ops that were clearly intended as campaigns for the USDP.
At a press conference this morning at her Rangoon residence, NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi was asked directly about the complaint.
“The president, under the constitution, is not allowed to act as an officiating member of any political party,” she responded. “He can be a member of a political party, but he is campaigning for a political party, and that is not allowed under the constitution. So we are lodging this complaint with the UEC.”
Suu Kyi also made a general reference to allegations against the ruling party. “Already the election process is proving to be less than free and fair,” she said, telling assembled reporters that her party had begun to compile evidence of misconduct at local levels.
Suu Kyi noted that while the NLD was not setting a minimum numbers of votes as a threshold or indicator of fraud, “if it looks to be suspicious, we will have to make a fuss about it.”
She added: “If there is fraud, then it’s up to the international community to expose it and condemn it.”
Read more DVB coverage of the 2015 election.