A spokesman for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has rejected reports that Burma’s ruling party was involved in axing this year’s by-elections, but said that he believes the decision to cancel polling was “sensible”.
“The reasons Union Election Commission [UEC] Chairman U Tin Aye gave for cancelling the by-elections were sensible,” said USDP central committee member Thar Win. “Nonetheless, we wanted to contest the polls and had been preparing for the campaign. We believe the by-elections would have been beneficial for us. We wanted to use this year’s polls as a learning curve for the 2015 general election.”
Thar Win told DVB the USDP conceded that the term of any elected candidates in the by-election would only last a year, and therefore the time spent campaigning would be uneconomical.
But he rejected claims that the polls, which were to be slated for November or December, had been cancelled due to pressure from the USDP.
“We had prepared vigorously for these by-elections,” he said. “But our preparations will not be wasted as we have national elections coming soon.”
Thirty-five vacant seats remain in the upper and lower houses of parliament, as well as state and divisional assemblies.
The opposition National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won 43 seats of 46 seats at the last by-elections in April 2012. It too said it accepted the decision of the UEC to cancel this year’s polls.