The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]

Thein Sein Interfering in Election, Says NLD
By BA KAUNG / THE IRRAWADDY Friday, March 23, 2012

Burma’s President Thein Sein is misusing his power during the current campaign for parliamentary by-elections scheduled for April 1, according to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Under the country's election rules, government officials including the president are barred from representing or campaigning for a political party.

But a statement released by the NLD on Thursday alleged that Thein Sein attempted to engage in electioneering during a recent meeting with farmers in Zabbu Thiri Township in Naypyidaw. The NLD claims he told the farmers: “We have fulfilled all your needs. Now it’s our turn to ask something in return.”

The NLD statement, which said the incident was reported in a local journal, did not directly accuse the Burmese president of campaigning for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The former army general represented the USDP before he was elected as president of the nominally civilian government last year.
In a further statement, released on Friday, March 24, the NLD complained that the authorities have taken no action against individuals distributing pamphlets which carry slanderous attacks against Suu Kyi. The statement said such a lack of action is paramount to encouraging those activities.

The pamphlets allegedly state that Suu Kyi must apologize to the people of Burma for having Western governments impose economic sanctions on the country.

The USDP and the NLD are the main rivals competing for the vacant 48 parliamentary seats in the upcoming elections. While the ruling government has vowed that the elections will be free and fair, and has this week invited the US and EU to send observers to monitor the polls, the NLD has issued a series of complaints about irregularities on the voters lists, harassment of its party members, and disruption of its campaign activities.

The NLD are complaining that dead persons are still listed on the voter registrars in Rangoon and the Irrawaddy Delta while some eligible voters are not listed as voters for the coming elections.

Zeyar Thaw, the 32-year-old activist and former political prisoner running as a NLD candidate in Zabbu Thiri Township against a USDP candidate, said Naypyidaw is the most hardened ground for election campaigning and that suspected USDP members destroyed an NLD party billboard in a village in his constituency late last month.

In an exclusively obtained audio of a speech by the former Minister of Industry No (1) Aung Thaung—who has now become the government’s top peace negotiator—he was recorded as telling villagers in central Burma a week ago that the USDP party has no members who are former prison convicts, and asked the locals if they wanted to become slaves of the British once again—a thinly veiled attack on NLD leader Suu Kyi who was previously married to a British citizen.

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