Pro-Regime NDF Backs Myanmar Junta’s Election

By The Irrawaddy 19 December 2022

Amid calls at home and abroad to reject the Myanmar military regime’s planned election next year, the pro-junta National Democratic Force (NDF) has called the poll a solution to the ongoing political crisis in the country.

The NDF has vowed to drum up support for the election, which has been called fraudulent and a recipe for continued violence by the parallel civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and much of the international community.

The NDF was formed before the 2010 general election by a handful of renegades from the country’s most popular party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), after it decided to boycott the vote.

The NLD joined most pro-democracy parties in boycotting the 2010 election over concern it had been rigged to ensure military dominance of politics.

The NDF’s leadership – including chairman U Khin Maung Swe, vice-chairmen U Soe Win and U Sein Hla Oo, secretary Dr. Win Naing, and executive committee members U Thar Hseng and U Thar Myint Htoo – are former NLD central executive committee members.

U Khin Maung Swe, left, and junta chief Min Aung Hlaing attending a meeting of the junta’s governing body, the State Administration Council, on Nov. 9, 2021.

Chairman U Khin Maung Swe currently sits on the State Administration Council, the junta’s 19-member governing body formed after the February 2021 coup. The 79-year-old calls the military “the protector” of Myanmar.

The NDF won 16 seats in the 2010 poll but failed to win a single seat in the 2015 and 2020 general elections when the NLD secured landslide victories. For the next election, the junta plans to replace the current first-past-the-post system with proportional representation in an apparent bid to prevent a landslide win by any party.

Under the aegis of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the NDF met with military chief Min Aung Hlaing before the November election in 2020. It then rejected the result of the election.

“They [NLD] snatched victory away from the genuine wishes of the people. [The election] was not free and fair. I don’t recognize the election,” U Khin Maung Swe told the press after his party was defeated.

The NLD won 920 out of 1,117 seats up for grabs in the 2020 general election, or 82.4 percent.

But after the NLD rejected the regime’s 2023 election plan, observers reckon the NDF will be keen to contest the poll. Other parties planning to join the election include the USDP, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, the National United Democratic Party and some NLD members.

Countries ranging from the United States to Malaysia have joined domestic democratic forces including the NUG and Karen National Union in calling the election a sham, saying the vote under military rule will be neither free nor fair.

Branches of the junta-appointed Union Election Commission have been holding meetings in townships to compile voter lists, designate polling stations and purchase polling materials. The regime is yet to name a date for the poll.

If the regime sticks to the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, it will be obliged to hold the poll by August next year.