Independent candidates for the 7 November polls say their main aim is to dislodge military rule in Burma and introduce a new era of “thriving democracy”.
Fourteen candidates running solo in the looming elections spoke at a press conference in Rangoon yesterday attended by a 100-strong audience, including foreign news journalists and Japanese diplomats. It comes days after Japan spoke of its “serious concern” over democratisation in military-ruled Burma.
Ba Tint Swe, who will run independently in Rangoon’s North Okkalapa township, said that the goals of the candidates also include the “abolishment of the laws that go against democracy and do little for the country and the people”, and to create laws that “favour development of the country”.
He also made an impassioned plea for Burmese citizens caught between the pro-boycott and pro-vote factions in the country to “go to the ballot stations on election day and vote with clear minds – not to vote for candidates who only nod to the [government] and look to ‘revive the dead tiger’”.
Burma is split between the faithfuls of the disbanded National League for Democracy (NLD), which has urged people not to go to the ballot box, and those who acknowledge the “progress” argument put forward by opposition parties who will compete on 7 November.
One of those, the Democratic Party has welcomed into its ranks eight independent candidates who’ll merge with the 60 or so candidates that the party said in August it would be fielding.
In total 37 parties will compete in the first polls in two decades, but critics of the Burmese junta say that pre-election conditions mean it is likely the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is headed by Burmese prime minister Thein Sein, will win. It is the only party with the financial means to field a candidate in every constituency, while it likely receives the hushed endorsement of Burma’s top brass.