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AMRDP’s obstacles in 2010 election

The All Mon Region Democracy Party has begun its election campaign, but faces many obstacles in Mon State in holding regular canvassing ahead of the general election scheduled for November 7, 2010, chairman.....

The All Mon Region Democracy Party has begun its election campaign, but faces many obstacles in Mon State in holding regular canvassing ahead of the general election scheduled for November 7, 2010, chairman of the party Nai Ngwe Thein said.

“We face many barriers as a political party such as difficulty in visiting some areas, restrictions imposed by the authorities, and a very short time frame to accomplish all of this,” says Thein.

“Even though we face many restrictions from the Election Commission, we are trying our best to reach out to the general public. We are preparing a script for Naypyidaw which will allow us to broadcast to the general public on September 29 [and October 18],” he told a Kaowao reporter.
The government has given the political parties 15 minutes free air time with many restrictions to broadcast their party’s campaign on the radio and Myanmar’s television station (MRTV).While the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP ) and National Unity Party (NUP) are contesting in all constituencies in the 10 townships of Mon State, the AMRDP has failed to field candidates in three townships - in Bee Lin, Kyaik Hto and Thaton, in the northern part of Mon State due to limited time and a lack of human and financial resources.

According to a local source, two government-backed parties are going to contest in the three Mon townships with no opposition candidates. Many people expect that the USDP will take the township seats because its rivals lack the financial and human resources to compete with them.

The AMRDP will contest in the following areas: Paung, Kyikemaraw, Mudon, Thanbyuzayat, Ye, Moulmien, and Chaung Sone Townships in Mon State; Kokkaradt, Karen State; and Yephyu Township, Tanintharyi Division. Another obstacle which has prevented many from contesting in the election, where the per capita income is about 600 US dollars, was the 500 dollar candidate registration fee, which the party was able to raise for each of their Mon candidates.

“We still need the funds for the campaign, voter education, and civic education works in the villages. We need to install two polling station representatives for each area in the region. The party is struggling for that, even though the voter education workshops have started with eight training teams working in different villages to cover at least 30 participants from each village,” said a party organizer of the AMRDP. “I feel bad we had to drop some constituencies because of limited funds, especially since we could have won easily in these areas. We have had to borrow money from businessmen who trust us,” he added.

In response to some activists and overseas Mon nationalists who are against the election, Dr. Min Nwe Soe, General Secretary of the AMRDP, says the overseas Mon need to understand their difficult position from inside Burma. The AMRDP leaders claim they will work hard for the interests of the entire Mon people inside parliament if they win the election.

AMRDP's main candidate, Dr. Min Nwe Soe, is a former senior staff of Mon State Health Department, who is to contest in Mudon Township.

The AMRDP has 29 candidates in Mon State, four in Karen State, and one in Tenasserim Division, totaling 34 candidates. Whereas, the government funded party USDP has 42 candidates throughout Mon State.

Nai Banyae, a political observer, says even though the AMRDP leaders are well-known among the Mon community, many people are not interested in politics. He says that many of the candidates on both sides of the fence lack political experience. Both the AMRDP and USDA in Mon State have selected candidates who have some influence among the local people in the community

The two main Mon political parties, MNDF and NMSP, are boycotting the election, and the Mon Monk Association has also called on their members to boycott it.

The AMRDP’s campaign head office is located in Mawlamyine with branch offices in Paung, Chaung Sone, Tarana, Kyaikmarok (Kyaik-ma-yaw), Ye, Mudon and Thanbyuzayat Townships. They also have an office in Kokbain village in Kokkarad Township, Karen State.

According to an AMRDP member in Ye Township, the USDP party candidates are announcing that they “are Mon” with the same goals “as the Mon party (AMRDP)” and urge the villagers to vote for them.

“They want to confuse the ethnic people to vote for them,” said Mehm Cham Mon, a youth who attended the opening ceremony at the USDP office in Ye Township on August 20, with over a thousand people dressed in their Mon traditional clothes in attendance.