PATHEIN — Local political parties in Chin State say their efforts to campaign have been hamstrung by heavy rains in August that triggered disastrous landslides in the region.
Dozens of roads and bridges were damaged in Chin State during the downpour, severing critical linkages between townships and villages.
“It’s been difficult to reach certain areas, Sone Zee Marn, vice-chair of the Chin League for Democracy, told The Irrawaddy. “Three wards in my constituency in Hakha have been damaged by landslides, which has greatly disadvantaged my attempts to get out and campaign,”.
Thirty-nine seats are up for grabs in Chin State: nine in the Lower House, 12 in the Upper House, and 18 in the state legislature.
A total of 202 candidates will be vying for the seats, including a number of independent candidates and 12 local ethnic parties, according to the Chin State branch of the Union Election Commission (UEC).
The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is fielding the largest number of candidates at 39, followed by the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the Chin National Democratic Party, each of which will field 38 candidates.
Enough roads have been repaired to enable access to urban areas for small cars, but reaching remote hillside villages has been another issue, according to state USDP secretary Zhone Vick.
“It’s not easy to campaign in these villages,” he said. “Some are accessible only by motor bike, so that’s one way we’ve had to campaign. And some villages we can only get to by foot.”
Ba Min, chairman of the Kale District NLD in Sagaing Division, claimed that political parties are facing additional hurdles because of regulations set by the divisional office of the Union Election Commission.
“The Commission requires us to report exactly which villages we will go to [for campaigning], who will speak, and when we’ll leave,” he said. “Some villages have hardly been accessible since the flooding in August. How are we supposed to give details like when we’ll arrive and when we’ll leave?”