Opposition Party to Contest All By-election Seats

By Htet Naing Zaw 11 November 2016

RANGOON – Burma’s main opposition party and former ruling party the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will contest all vacant seats in the upcoming by-elections and hopes to field an equal number of male and female candidates, USDP spokesperson U Khin Yi told The Irrawaddy.

He said the party hopes that younger candidates will gain grassroots support.

“We have changed the candidate selection system,” said U Khin Yi. “We will select those who get support on the ground.”

The USDP won just more than 100 seats in the 2015 elections that saw a landslide victory for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The defeat prompted a shakeup of the USDP in which many leaders resigned or were replaced.

Political analyst U Ye Htun said that voters in the by-elections would continue to support the ruling party despite opposition efforts because of the strength of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“People do not care about the actual candidate. They will vote for [the NLD] just because they are the NLD,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“NLD candidates are unlike members of the previous government who only sought self-interest when they came into power,” he said.

The by-elections will be held on April 1 and a total of 19 constituencies have vacant seats. For those in Shan State, the USDP will also face competition from ethnic Shan political parties.

There are nine seats in the Lower House, three in the Upper House, and 19 in the divisional and state parliaments up for grabs in the upcoming by-election and the NLD also plans to contest for all seats.

“The NLD will win the majority of vacant seats. The USDP won’t win more than one or two,” said U Ye Htun.

“Of course we want to win all the seats,” the USDP spokesperson told The Irrawaddy.