Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) offered scholarships, IT training and employment opportunities to students at a meeting in Maungdaw in exchange for their support in the upcoming national election, said a student who attended the meeting.

USDP officials called more than 150 students to a meeting on October 25 at the party’s proxy organization, the Regional Development Association (RDA) to discuss their future.

Party candidate Aung Zaw Win said he would do his best to secure a better future for the students.

He cited the restrictions on members of the Rohingya community working in the government sector and said he would take steps to ease those restrictions and open up jobs as police officers and teachers, he reportedly said at the meeting.

“When students raised questions at the meeting for the candidate, they were told to come back to the RDA office with a party application on November 1,” an election watchdog group from Maungdaw said.

The group added that at a recent campaign stop in Nyaung Chaung (Khadibil) village earlier this month, a young student challenged Aung Zaw Win not to make false campaign promises in order to secure votes, adding that most people did not support his party.

USDP officials have turned their focus towards young people, as older residents are increasingly throwing their support behind the National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD), the group said.

“Whenever the USDP campaigns in rural areas, they always say that they are the party of the ruling government of Burma and threaten harm to people who do not support them,” the group said.

In Maungdaw district, where three constituencies are in play for the election, Burma’s ruling junta selected four Rakhine community candidates for the USDP, including Aung Zaw Win, and making them unpopular with local residents, the group said.

When try to confirm the situation from the USDP office of Maungdaw by phone, no body responds.

“Whenever Aung Zaw Win campaigns, he mentions the government and that his party will ultimately win the election. He says nothing about keeping the promises that other ranking military leaders have made to improve the lives of the community,” said a politician from Maungdaw.

Rohingyas were given assurances by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in the past that restrictions on their livelihoods would ease step by step, and that they would eventually receive identity cards, be allowed to travel freely, build and repair mosques, and have the freedom to marry, and that this would happen before the election.

But such promises have failed to materialize as the SPDC have failed to implement them.

In response, two Rohingya groups took steps to counter the false promises by organizing the Rohingya community in Rangoon, forming the NDPD and the National Democratic and Peace Party (NDPP) to contest elections in Arakan State after getting approval from the SPDC.

The National Democratic and Peace Party (NDPP) is a proxy party of the USDP and it has only four candidate in northern Arakan.

Residents in northern Arakan now say they are more inclined to support community-based political parties, who they believe will work more diligently for the welfare of the voters.