Slow Uptake on Election Candidate Submissions

By San Yamin Aung 27 July 2015

RANGOON — A week after submissions opened for candidates in this year’s general election, Burma’s electoral body has seen only 46 individuals put forward from seven parties and independents.

Of the nearly 1200 seats up for grabs on Nov. 8, the Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on Monday that in the last week they had received 10 candidate applications for the Lower House, four for the Upper House, 23 for state and divisional parliaments and nine for seats allocated to ethnic representatives.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), has so far fielded only one candidate for a divisional legislature, while the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has put forward five candidates nationwide.

Tha Win, secretary of the USDP’s Rangoon Division branch, told The Irrawaddy that the party had already finalized candidate selection across all constituencies and would announce its full candidate list soon.

Other candidates to have lodged their applications hail from the National Unity Party, the political grouping formed by the remnants of the Ne Win socialist era to contest the 1990 constitutional plebiscite, and the National Democratic Force, the party formed to contest the 2010 elections in the wake of an NLD boycott.

The Kayin Unity Democratic Party, the Chin National Democratic Party, the Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State and 13 independent candidates have also made submissions to the UEC.

The NLD had asked the commission to extend the Aug. 8 deadline for candidate submission, claiming that a window of less than three weeks to finalize its candidate list was too short.

Commission chairman Tin Aye told reporters at the press conference last week that he could not permit an extension of the submission period because of the timeframe required to publish ballots and arrange advance voting.

“It is impossible to extend the period, since I already gave them enough time and I said when the election would be held in advance. So I can’t give it to them,” he said.

Once submissions close on Aug. 8, parties will have three days to withdraw nominees before the UEC begins scrutinizing candidates between Aug 12-21.