RANGOON — Burma’s election commission has thrown out an opposition complaint against Thein Sein which alleged that the president had campaigned on behalf of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) ahead of Sunday’s vote.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) sent letters to Union Election Commission chairman Tin Aye earlier this week, claiming the president’s activities during the two-month election campaign were a breach of the Constitution.
Thein Oo, a UEC director, told The Irrawaddy on Saturday that the complaint was groundless.
“The President is traveling around the country for the development of the country,” he said. “It is in accordance with the Constitution. If he told people to vote for his party, then we could say he is doing party activities. Did he say that?”
Article 64 of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution stipulates that if the president is a member of a political party, they must abstain from party activities during their term of office. Thein Sein remains co-chairman of the USDP, despite questions over the constitutionality of his retention of the party-political post.
The NLD’s complaint detailed six trips made by the president in October, during which he was greeted by local USDP members and supporters with the exhortation “good health to the chairman”. Elsewhere, Thein Sein’s photograph was an almost ubiquitous feature of the ruling party’s campaign billboards, flyers and other promotional materials.
“They claim what we said (in our complaint) was not right. We reject that,” said NLD central executive committee member Win Htein. “It is significant that the UEC is taking sides.”
He added that the commission’s response did not address use of the president’s portrait on USDP campaign materials. The NLD has sent a further letter to the UEC to highlight the constitutional questions around Thein Sein’s role as ruling party chairman.