- Title: MYANMAR: Parties campaign ahead of election
- Date: 7th November 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) THU WAI, CHAIRMAN OF THE OPPOSITION DEMOCRATIC PARTY (MYANMAR), SAYING: "The will of the people is the most important thing. To be successful means to become the people's favourite. We are favoured by the people."
- Embargoed: 22nd November 2010 12:00
- Location: Myanmar
- Country: Myanmar
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACTPZKROL2WP6CR2MUUXB2BO66
- Story Text: While many have written off the Myanmar elections as a done deal, opposition candidates are banking on popular will to carry them through, or at least to make a statement.
Campaigning was at its peak on Saturday (November 6), a day before Myanmar holds its first election in 20 years.
Campaign trucks blasting jingles passed through residential areas, while volunteers handed out pamphlets with slogans like: "I am not authoritarian, I am not capitalist, I am just the people's servant."
The former capital of Yangon sees some of the few thrilling party contests in this elections as anti-government parties like the Democratic Party (Myanmar) maintain strongholds in several of its townships, such as Minggala Taung Nyut.
"I haven't thought of it yet, about who to vote for tomorrow, but in my heart I already have a choice," a local resident said.
With limited seats available for non-military officials, and with the government providing campaign resources for candidates they back, the opposition is at a tremendous disadvantage.
But the leader of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), Thu Wei, voiced optimism.
"The will of the people is the most important thing. To be successful means to become the people's favourite. We are favoured by the people," he said.
Thu Wai accused the government of cheating and malpractice and said that hundreds of state workers were forced to vote for the pro-military USDP in advance balloting.
"All candidates running for parliament are trying to win votes in different ways since they began forming parties. Ministers are supposed to be government servants, but they have mis-used their power by holding advance balloting," he said.
Three opposition parties have lodged anti-government complaints with the election commission on Friday (November 5), claiming that voters were forced to vote for the ruling parties.
A total of 37 political parties are to run in Myanmar's election on Sunday (November 7) for seats in the military-ruled country's first civilian assemblies in nearly five decades.
Two big parties, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and National Unity Party (NUP) are seen as proxies for the junta, which is unlikely to cede real power.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which swept the last polls in 1990 but was never allowed to rule, has boycotted the vote because of what it said were unfair rules. Suu Kyi is in detention and her party was officially dissolved in September 14.
National Democratic Front (NDF) led by renegade members of Suu Kyi's NLD, is seem the last resort for voters who opt to practice their rights without being influenced.
The NDF believes the NLD boycott was counter-productive and sees itself as the only real opposition to the junta's proxies.
Its popularity is hard to gauge. It says restrictive campaign laws and a lack of time and money mean it will only contest 166 constituencies, just 14 percent of the seats.
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