Naypyitaw—The National League for Democracy (NLD) has swept all the seats up for grabs in Mandalay Region including the seats in Meiktila, Pyawbwe, Yamethin and Thazi where it lost to the Myanmar military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in 2015.
“Perhaps people were misled by propaganda in 2015. This time, people have voted for our party mainly because they have understood us and the actions of the NLD government over the past five years,” U Tin Ko Ko, campaign manager of the NLD in Mandalay Region, told The Irrawaddy.
According to initial voting results, the NLD has secured all of the 105 seats in Mandalay Region. In 2015, it won just 91 while the USDP won 12 seats and the Democratic Party one seat.
However, USDP candidates have filed lawsuits with the region election sub-commission alleging fraud and calling for recounts.
While the NLD managed to win all the constituencies in which it was defeated convincingly in 2015, complaints are to be expected because the margin of victory was narrow, said Dr. Win Soe Oo, chairman of the NLD in Meiktila.
The NLD candidate for the Lower House received 103,847 votes and the USDP candidate received 91,569 votes in Meiktila.
“We have won back all four seats we lost previously,” said Dr. Win Soe Oo.
USDP candidate for Meiktila Dr. Maung Thin said he would not sign the Form-19, a form showing the aggregated results of individual polling stations and advance votes. The form is compiled by the township election sub-commission and delivered to the Union Election Commission (UEC) which officially declares the results.
Anti-Muslim sentiments were once rife in Meiktila, Pyawbwe, Yamethin and Thazi townships, and even led to sectarian conflicts and violence between communities. Those places were believed to be strongholds of the USDP because of its use of nationalist rhetoric.
However, in Pyawbwe this time, current USDP lawmaker former Lieutenant General U Thaung Aye lost to the NLD by a margin of 20,000 votes.
U Thaung Aye claimed voter impersonation and under-18 voters among other election fraud. He also claimed that some businessmen paid their employees to cast votes for the NLD.
“There were many irregularities. So I have filed complaints and that’s why I haven’t signed Form-19. The electoral body needs to provide an explanation,” said U Thaung Aye.
The NLD won all the seats in Yamethin Township, but USDP candidates there are also refusing to sign Form-19. Meanwhile false rumors spread that the USDP was actually the winner in the township, said the NLD’s candidate for the Mandalay Region parliament, U Aung Myo Oo.
“The USDP has won for two consecutive elections in my constituency. This is the first time we have won,” he said.
Though 20 political parties competed in the Nov. 8 election in Mandalay, it was just a two-horse race between the NLD and the USDP.
In 2015, the NLD won 390 seats, or 79 percent of seats up for grabs in the bicameral Parliament.
According to initial vote counts at polling stations, the party has won 398 seats or 83 percent of seats in the Nov. 8 election. The UEC hasn’t finalized the results yet.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.