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CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Upper House Speaker Takes Aim at NLD During Mandalay Rally

Khin Aung Myint has used a Mandalay rally to accuse the opposition of disregarding campaign rules ahead of Burma’s landmark Nov. 8 poll.


MANDALAY — Khin Aung Myint has used a rally for the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to accuse the opposition of disregarding campaign rules ahead of Burma’s landmark Nov. 8 poll.

Addressing thousands of supporters in Mandalay on Friday morning at an event to introduce party candidates to the public, the Upper House speaker stated that the USDP had strictly abided by the election code of conduct since the campaign officially began on Sept. 8—unlike the opposition, he claimed.

“Some have said they are doing voter education, but in reality, they are giving speeches like clowns and urging members of the public to vote for their favorite party,” he told the crowd. “That kind of campaign is an abuse of the code of conduct and the rules and regulations of the election campaign.”

Khin Aung Myint added that the USDP always sought permission for its public rallies and always abided by the law.

“Our party never twists the law like other parties do. We always seek permission in accordance with the law,” he said.

Though he didn’t mention any political parties by name, his reference to “voter education” rallies and implicit suggestion that voters should consider individual candidates in tandem with political parties are apparent criticisms of the campaign tactics of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

“Our party is strong enough and so are our candidates,” he said. “We don’t need to say ‘just look at the party’ to vote…If someone is saying, ‘just look at the party but not the candidates’, there must be a weakness with their candidates.”

The release of the NLD’s candidate list in August led to an outcry against the party leadership, leading to several resignations and the expulsion of several other party functionaries. In response to the controversy, Suu Kyi said that voters should only consider the NLD’s fighting peacock logo and not the name of individual candidates when they receive their ballots.

The Upper House speaker also used Friday’s rally to highlight the leading role the USDP played in enacting Burma’s controversial military-drafted 2008 Constitution and delivering political and economic reform to the country.

“We’ve led this because we want changes, not to hold onto power,” he said. “During our rule, there have been many changes, like remote areas now having access to electricity and good transportation. These developments are the result of the USDP thinking about the people.”

“Our party is the strongest, most disciplined, most well-formed and the one that introduced the changes in this country. The voters should look for the party who can bring real changes in the future. If you vote wrongly, you will have to accept the bitter result,” he added.

The USDP was formed in 2010 as a political party and successor to the Union Solidarity and Development Association, an organization established in 1993 to extend the reach of the former military regime into Burma’s civil society. Most of the USDP’s candidates and incumbent parliamentarians are military personnel from the junta-era, including Khin Aung Myint, a former Major-General.

More than 4000 supporters, most wearing USDP uniforms and bearing flags and placards with messages of support for the party, attended Friday’s rally at Manawyaman Grounds in Mandalay’s east.