The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) on Wednesday launched its campaign for April’s by-election, with candidates running in all seven constituencies where polls will be held in Shan State.
The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) campaign during the 2015 general election.
Speaking to Shan Herald on Thursday, SNLD spokesperson Sai Lek said that party members kicked off the campaign in Kehsi, Monghsu and Kengtung townships on February 15. He explained that the candidates’ main task will be to explain the party’s policies to the electorate.
“We have started campaigning in all seven constituencies: three in Kehsi, another three in Monghsu, and one in Kengtung township,” he said. “We are laying out our policies and helping voters understand how to cast their ballots.
Polling in Kehsi and Monghsu tonwships was cancelled during the general election in November 2015 because of fighting between the Tatmadaw [Burmese government forces] and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA).
“We will not be forcing people to vote for us,” Sai Lek added. “We will explain to them that they can vote freely and for whomever they wish. We are taking time to explain the voting process.
“During the general elections in 1990, 2010 and 2015, many people in Shan State did not understand the responsibilities of voting. To this day, many still don’t truly understand the process, and that’s why we are explaining it to them. This is the main issue we are addressing.
“We will contest all seven seats,” Sai Lek said. “If the public supports us, we believe we will win them all.”
In the 2015 election, the SNLD, commonly known as the ‘Tiger Head Party,’ won a total of 40 seats, making it the second strongest party in Shan State, next to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Its main rival, the Shan National Democratic Party (SNDP), won only one constituency in the last general election; that was a State Assembly seat in Mong Pan Township. The SNDP will also contest all available seats in the April 1 by-election.
However, the newly formed Eastern Shan State Development Democratic Party (ESSDDP) has announced that it will not contest any seats at the upcoming by-election unless its sister parties, the SNLD and SNDP, cooperate with them.
According to a Union Election Commission (UEC) announcement on October 1, a total of 18 vacant seats will be up for grabs in both Union and regional parliaments on April 1.
Constituencies under the control of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) – namely Panghsang, Narpan, Pangwai and Mongmaw – as well as Mongla Township, which is the headquarters of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), have not announced whether they will hold polling for the by-election.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)