Inclement weather and strict rules laid down by the Election Commission have delayed election campaign of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) across western Burma's Arakan State, said a party ...
Inclement weather and strict rules laid down by the Election Commission have delayed election campaign of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) across western Burma's Arakan State, said a party candidate.
"As it was raining continuously over the whole of last week here and we have to carry out our campaigns mostly on open ground as per electoral rules, we had to cancel our planned campaign in many urban wards and villages," said U Maung Nyo, who is a candidate from the RNDP contesting for the People's Assembly in Arakan's capital Sittwe.
He told Narinjara that his party had to apply for permission from the Election Commission to carry out the canceled events at a later date, and the EC's delay in processing their permit have further hindered the party's activities.
"Without the EC's permission we cannot go for campaigns, and we have to be very careful to be in line with its orders and electoral laws. So, we have applied again for permission for our postponed campaigns, but the EC's delay to provide permits has hindered our activities," he said.
The election is scheduled to be held on 7 November, and all political parties have only 23 days left to carry out canvassing or other pre-election campaign activities.
The RNDP, according to the source, could have campaigned in eight out of 32 urban wards and a few of the 30 rural village groups in Sittwe Township so far, had their activities not been delayed. The party has been facing similar obstacles in other townships as well.
The RNDP, the largest Arakanese party, is fielding 44 candidates in the election in 14 of 17 townships in Arakan State, with just one candidate for the State Assembly in the Buthidaung constituency and another one for the Rakhine ethnic constituency in Rangoon Division.
"Due to shortage of funds and time, we could not nominate candidates in all townships and had to skip Taungup, Ann, Gwa and Maungdaw Townships in Arakan State," said U Maung Nyo.
Meanwhile, the Burmese regime-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, has been intensifying campaign all over Arakan State, according to local sources. Their latest campaign involves pasting vinyl posters at busy intersections and public places projecting their candidates in the main town of each township.
A member of the Arakan League for Democracy, which got the third most votes in the 1990 elections and has boycotted the ensuing election, said that the USDP has been using the regime's authority in its campaigns to garner votes and expand membership in Arakan State.
"We have been watching very closely how the regime-backed USDP and other registered political parties have been campaigning in Arakan State. We have found the USDP never cares for the Election Commission or its laws," he said.
"For example, they have used monasteries and religious buildings for their campaigns despite electoral restrictions, while other parties have to wait for the EC's permission for days for each campaign in Arakan State. We have heard with our own ears its members daring to say that other parties must subordinate their party after the elections in Arakan State because their party is backed by the government in power, and urging people to join the party," he added.
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