The Irrawaddy

Party Leaders Object to Electoral Commission Over NLD By-Election Campaign

Leader of the USDP U Than Htay in Hlaing Tharyar Township, Rangoon. (Photo: U Than Htay / Facebook)

RANGOON — The leaders of 13 political parties signed a letter to the Union Election Commission (UEC) on Monday complaining that National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders violated the 2008 Constitution and UEC directives in the run-up to the April 1 by-elections.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the National Development Party, the Democratic Party (Myanmar), and 10 other parties accused Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech on the first anniversary of the NLD-led government on March 30 of being a party campaign message in disguise.

The letter also stated that interviews with the NLD secretary U Win Htein and patron U Tin Oo published in state media on March 31 and April 1 breached the election commission’s announcement that campaigning would be banned from midnight on March 30 to April 1; this is also outlined in the election code of conduct.

The parties’ objected to the State Counselor’s reference to the NLD slogan “Time to Change” used during the 2015 election campaign, and her announcement of the party’s new slogan—“Together with the People”—during her speech, which was broadcasted and printed in state media on the eve of the by-elections.

The reference, it said, violated Section 232(k) of the military-drafted Constitution, which bans Union ministers from taking part in party activities during their term in office.

USDP spokesperson Dr. Nanda Hla Myint told The Irrawaddy last month that the State Counselor’s speech was “like a counterstrike for other opponent parties” with the by-elections near.

“We can’t accept the abuse of power because the NLD is the ruling party…that’s why our party and other parties signed the letter together and objected to it,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

There are media reports of former President Thein Sein’s government and USDP Union ministers campaigning using state media and being involved in the party’s campaigning in the 2010 and 2015 general elections.

UEC Deputy Director General U Nay Myo said they received the objection letter. He added the commission’s chairman and members would give a verdict on the complaint.

The NLD won nine out of 18 contested seats in the April 1 by-elections, in which 19 seats were up for grabs, while the USDP won two seats.

Additional reporting by Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint.