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Monday, 7 June 2010

Public interest in polls dims: political parties

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese people are losing interest in politics, according to parties approved by the Union Election Commission that are having difficulties on the campaign trail amid voter apathy.

The Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics, Rakhine (Arakan) State National Force of Myanmar, Union Democratic Party, Diversity and Peace Party and the Democratic Party (Myanmar) were among the parties making the complaint.

“There is a 20-year gap between people and party politics so that we have difficulties in our organisational work such as dealing with people and dealing with other political parties,” Federation of National Politics liaison chief Ohn Lwin said.

“We have to say too much to people to [encourage them to] re-engage in politics as the idea that engaging in politics means languishing in jail, is deeply rooted …,” Wunthanu NLD (The Union of Myanmar) vice-chairman Ye Win said. “We have to explain too much to them on this issue especially in our campaigning in rural areas. The people are far too scared to join political parties and engage in politics.”

Democratic Party (Myanmar) general secretary Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, 62, also said that the people were being intimidated and dared not step forward to participate in the political process to the extent that her party too was facing difficulties in motivating people.

Diversity and Peace Party secretary Nay Myo Wei also said that his party canvassers had to do a lot of persuading to hold people’s interest and put them at ease.

The UEC released a statement on May 29, which says parties will be deregistered unless they could not produce the prescribed membership numbers within 90 days from the date they receive permission to form a political party.

In applying for registration, the parties had to sign a pledge to organise a prescribed number for their party membership, ordered to be at least 1,000 for a national party and 500 for regional parties, within the prescribed period of 90 days.

They were also forced to coax colleagues and friends first to join so the parties could meet the quota within the prescribed or face dissolution, though they are not yet permitted to freely carry out campaigns.

This problem could be easily resolved if parties received the legal right to start their campaigns, Democratic Party Secretary Phyo Min Thein said.

“We are not the parties that can enjoy the backing by government and government-related organisations and individuals so that we will try to be a party representing the people. We have no problem with that,” he added. “But we need freedom for our party central organising committee’s … activities. The government and different levels of authorities should give us this freedom. If we get such freedom, we will have no problems.”

Apart from government-backed parties, other parties have operational difficulties, a political source said.

“We have much difficulty with our financing. It is impossible to complete our work in due course. For instance, we have to postpone work for about four or five days, even though it should be done today, because of our financial constraints,” Rakhine State National Force party chairman Aye Kyaing said.

“We are trying to run a campaign but we’re holding meetings on finance – who will contribute and how much,” Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein said. “We are even having difficulties meeting travel expenses.”

Nay Myo Wei said his party had campaign finance constraints.

Application for registration of a political party must be first initiated by 15 persons stating that they wish to form a party in accordance with the electoral laws by submitting their application to the UEC. The commission then scrutinises and processes these applications and informs the parties of the outcome.

After passing this first step, parties have to resubmit their party flags, seals and logos to the commission in an application signed by the parties’ chairman and vice-chairman, seeking permission for final registration. These branding items are put under the same commission scrutiny.

After being registered, the party must prove it has the minimum requirements for party membership within 90 days from the date of registration.

At least 42 parties have applied to the UEC, either re-registering, or setting up a new party. The commission announced yesterday it had granted registration to 28 parties to out of a total 32 applicants. The government has yet to announce the election date.

The following is a list of the 28 parties that have been recognised by the UEC and the dates on which they became fully registered political parties:

National Unity Party (April 29)

Lahu National Development Party (April 29)

Pa-O National Organisation date unavailable

Kokang Democracy and Unity Party (May 17)

Democractic Party (Myanmar) (May 20)

Kayan National Party (May 20)

Rakhine State National Force of Myanmar Party (May 20)

Karen People’s Party (May 21)

Wa National Unity Party (May 21)

Union Karen Nationalities League (May 21)

Ta-aung (Palaung) National Party (May 24)

All Mon State Democracy Party (May 24)

Democracy and Peace Party (May 24)

Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (May 26)

United Democratic Party (May 26)

88-Generation Student Youths (Union of Myanmar) (May 26)

National Political Alliances League date unavailable

Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics (May 26)

Myanmar New Society Democratic Party (May 27)

Chin National Party (May 27)

Wunthanu NLD (Union of Myanmar) (May 28)

Mro or Khami National Solidartiy Organisation (May 28)

Modern People Party date unavailable

Union Democratic Party date unavailable

Diversity and Peace Party (June 1)

Chin Progressive Party (June 1)

Inn National Development Party (June 1)

Rakine Nationalities Progressive Party (June 1)

Source: http://www.mizzima.com/news/election-2010/4012-public-interest-in-polls-dims-political-parties-.html and reposted by Burma Democratic Concern (BDC)

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