Election 2020

Myanmar’s NLD Unveils Election Candidate Lineup With More Women, Muslims

By San Yamin Aung 23 July 2020

YANGON—The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) on Thursday unveiled its candidate list for the upcoming election. The lineup consists largely of the party’s sitting lawmakers and current chief ministers, but also includes more women than in 2015 and two Muslim candidates.

Myanmar will hold a general election on Nov. 8.

With less than three months to go before the election, the party announced its list of candidates on Thursday afternoon, right after finalizing its selections.

Of the more than 1,000 candidates listed by the party, 80 percent are sitting lawmakers who won parliamentary seats in the previous general election held in 2015.

The NLD won a sweeping victory in 2015, defeating the then ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and taking office in 2016.

In a video message to the selected candidates, NLD Chairwoman Daw Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged on Thursday that there were few new faces on the list of candidates.

Based on the lessons it has learned since the 1990 election, she said, the party prioritized “loyalty” and “experience” when selecting candidates.

“We look at the applicants’ loyalty to the party’s policies,” she said. “We pay special attention to those who will faithfully support the aspiration of democratic federalism and who will walk along with us [in the long term].”

Party Vice Chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said on Thursday that 20 percent of sitting NLD lawmakers who had performed poorly in Parliament and had not adhered strictly to party discipline and implementing party policies were excluded from the candidate list.

All current state and regional chief ministers except Yangon’s U Phyo Min Thein were re-selected to run in the election. U Phyo Min Thein has previously said he won’t run in the election due to poor health.

Many NLD chief ministers including U Phyo Min Thein, Kayah State Chief Minister L Phaung Sho and Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein have disappointed the public by getting involved in controversial activities and failing to fully perform their duties over the past four years.

What’s new?

The NLD will be fielding more women candidates in the upcoming poll than in previous elections.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said Thursday that women account for 20 percent of the party’s candidates—up from about 13 percent in 2015.

The NLD will also field at least two Muslim candidates. The Muslim candidates included in Thursday’s list, Daw Win Mya Mya and Ko Sithu Maung, are both former political prisoners. They will contest in Mandalay and Yangon regions. The party didn’t pick any Muslim candidates in the election in 2015.

In ethnic areas, the party has prioritized local ethnic candidates, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said.

He added that farmers accounted for 12 percent of the NLD’s candidates in November’s general election.

The Union Election Commission has called for candidate registrations to be submitted from July 20 to Aug. 7.

Myanmar currently has 96 registered political parties. They will vie for a total of 1,171 seats that are up for grabs in both houses of the Union Parliament and in the state and regional legislatures.

Note: This story was updated on July 24, 2020.

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