USDP to Field Most Candidates in Upcoming By-Elections

By San Yamin Aung 3 January 2017

RANGOON — Burma’s main opposition and former ruling party the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will field 19 parliamentary candidates in the upcoming by-elections in April while the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) will put forward just 18.

The Union Election Commission (UEC) approved 95 candidates—88 candidates from 24 political parties and seven individuals—according to the final candidate list released on Monday.

Burma’s two biggest political parties pledged to contest all vacant seats in the by-elections scheduled for April 1 in Rangoon, Sagaing and Pegu divisions, and Shan, Karenni, Mon, Chin and Arakan states.

An NLD secretary U Nyan Win, however, told The Irrawaddy that the party’s nominated candidate to contest the regional seat of Karenni state’s Hpruso Township failed to register his candidacy with the district election sub-commission between Nov. 28 and Dec. 7 last year.

U Nyan Win described the NLD nominee as “not diligent.”

The absence of an NLD candidate means Hpruso voters will choose between National Progressive Party, USDP and All Nationals’ Democracy Party (Kayah State) nominees.

According to the UEC a total of 16 women will run in the by-elections among the 95 candidates. The NLD has nominated two women candidates for an Upper House seat in Pegu Division and regional seat in Shan State, while the USDP didn’t nominate a female candidate.

Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) will field five female candidates, the most of any party.

The 19 seats in the by-elections  were left open due to ministerial appointments, which require selected lawmakers to vacate their seats, as well as three deaths.

Elections for representatives in six constituencies in Kesi (Kyethi) and Mong Hsu townships of central Shan State were cancelled due to armed conflict during the 2015 election.

In the 2015 election, the NLD won 886 out of 1,150 elected seats across the Union and regional parliaments. The USDP came second with 117 seats, followed by the Arakan National Party with 45 and the SNLD with 40.