November 03, 2015

Kachin State, Ethnic parties - worry, no unity to compete USDP & NLD

Ethnic parties in Myanmar's four Christian dominated regions are worried that a lack of resources to compete with major parties and the risk of vote-splitting may affect their chances of winning seats in the looming Nov. 8 election. For minorities in a country with 135 recognized ethnic groups, the election represents a major opportunity.

Two-thirds of the 93 registered political parties represent minority groups. Myanmar has seven ethnicity-based states, four of which have sizable Christian populations. Kuh Eugene, who is running for state parliament in eastern Myanmar's Kayah state, said his relatively small Kayan National Party can't compete financially with the likes of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) or the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). He told UCANews they try reaching out to the villages where they gain major support from their ethnic people. However, he said, the remoteness of villages from polling booths will see ethnic parties lose votes. Ethnic minority groups have already raised concerns after authorities canceled the vote in 400 villages in Kachin and Karen states, due to security reasons. The loss of voting privileges in these areas could hurt many ethnic parties on election day.

 Khet Htein Nan, a lawmaker from the Unity and Democracy Party in Christian-majority Kachin state, feared ethnic parties in Kachin will lose votes from the villages where they can't vote. Political parties have been asked to conclude their 60-day campaigns at midnight on Friday, Nov. 6, before Sunday’s voting. Observers see the 2015 election as a crucial test of the country's transition to a still very fragile democracy. (Source: UCAN)


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