USDP Offers Glimpse of 2015 Field as Suu Kyi Officially Files to Contend

By San Yamin Aung 29 July 2015

RANGOON — The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) on Wednesday rolled out a list of 149 candidates that it intends to field in Rangoon Division for the upcoming general election, while the same day the ruling party’s longtime foe, National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, officially filed her candidature forms.

Giving voters a taste of the party’s ambitions this fall, the USDP list indicates that it will contest all 45 seats allotted to Rangoon Division in the Union Parliament’s Lower House, as well as all 12 of the division’s Upper House seats. In the divisional legislature, the party will field candidates for all 92 of the commercial capital’s elected seats, including two seats allocated to Arakanese and Karen ethnic affairs ministers.

As expected, leading businessmen, military generals and sitting government ministers are among the USDP list.

Gen. Hla Htay Win, the military’s chief of general staff; Adm. Thura Thet Swe, the commander in chief of the Burma Navy; President’s Office Minister Thein Nyunt; Deputy Minister of Commerce Pwint San; and business tycoon Khin Shwe, the chairman of Zaykabar Company, are among the ruling party’s notable 2015 contenders revealed on Wednesday.

Rangoon’s current chief minister, USDP member Myint Swe, will not run in the election due Nov. 8.

Tha Win, secretary of the USDP’s Rangoon Division branch, said the party gave official recognition letters to the 149 candidates on Wednesday, indicating that they had received approval from the USDP central committee to contest.

He said that each township office was asked to nominate a maximum of three candidates, with the central committee making the final decision on who would get the party nod, adding that the USDP’s Naypyidaw headquarters had instructed local branch offices to issue official recognition letters to approved USDP candidates in each state and region by Thursday.

“Almost all candidates are well-experienced,” Tha Win said of the Rangoon field, explaining that most were seeking re-election after being voted into office in Burma’s 2010 general election, which was widely discredited as fraudulent. He will also seek re-election in the constituency he currently represents, Rangoon’s Yankin Township.

“We included candidates from various fields. Old party members, new party members, businessmen, academics and PhDs included,” the Lower House lawmaker said.

An official from the USDP told reporters at an event Wednesday to mark the candidate rollout that the party had not yet selected a name for Zabuthiri constituency in Naypyidaw, where President Thein Sein was elected in 2010, to allow the president to run for re-election there if he so chooses.

The president has not committed to running in the 2015 poll, but has indicated he is open to the possibility.

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi hand-delivered her candidate application on Wednesday to the election subcommission office in Rangoon’s Southern District, where she will again compete for votes in Kawhmu Township. The popular opposition leader won an overwhelming majority, and with it a Lower House seat, in an April 2012 by-election.

Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, had posted on his Facebook on Tuesday that a series of announcements on who from the party would contest in which constituencies would be made beginning on Wednesday. When the party spokesman took to Facebook on Wednesday evening, however, he announced only that the NLD had finalized its candidates for one Lower House seat—Rangoon Division’s Thaketa Township—and six Upper House constituencies, without revealing any names or the latter seats’ locations.

NLD central committee member Tun Tun Hein told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the party had received more than 3,000 proposals from individuals seeking to run under the NLD’s banner in the upcoming election. Academics, former political prisoners and well-known activists including Ko Ko Gyi, a leader from the 88 Generation students group, formerly independent lawmaker Nyo Nyo Thin and influential media presence Nay Phone Latt are among those who have said they will run on the NLD ticket later this year.

The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on Wednesday that over the July 20-28 period, it had received 31 candidate applications for the Lower House, 12 for the Upper House, 58 for state and divisional parliaments and 13 for seats allocated to ethnic representatives.

It stated that out of the 114 submissions, 14 political parties and 22 independent candidates’ applications had been received.

The Nov. 8 election will put a total of 1,171 parliamentary seats up for grabs between the Union Parliament and regional legislatures.