Monday, 29 May 2017

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The arrival of a small Burmese naval vessel from Sittwe on Sunday has led to speculation in Maungdaw that authorities are boosting security ahead of national elections on November 7.

The type of vessel and the purpose of its arrival at the mouth of the Thayet Ook stream in Maungdaw Township remain unknown, local residents say.

But its presence has set off speculation about changing expectations for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which residents say has faced setbacks in garnering support in northern Arakan for their junta-backed candidates.

USDP candidates traveled to Maung Nama village on October 30 to campaign, but local residents showed no interest and the delegation returned to Maungdaw, said a local village elder.

Party candidates yesterday held a campaign event at Aung Min Gala Natala village, to which they invited Lt Col Aung Gy, director of the Burma border security force Nasaka’s headquarters in Kawar Bill, leading some residents to say that the USDP was stepping up pressure to get support for their candidates, the village elder added.

A villager from Maung Nama said party officials opened the event to all area residents, despite the fact that most have thrown their support behind the National Development and Democratic Party (NDPD).

Residents from several villages in Maungdaw Township say the USDP has used local Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) chairmen to urge support for the party.

All VPDC chairmen were called to a meeting in Maungdaw Township on October 30 to 31 and instructed on how to increase support for the junta-backed USDP, said a businessman from Maungdaw.

A local leader from Maungdaw town said the party is not taking any chances with the coming election.

“Villagers believe that by any means, they will get the votes of villagers. They do not want a repeat of what happened in the 1990 elections,” said a local leader.

The National League for Democracy and its party head, Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory in 1990 over the military-led State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), though they were prevented from taking power.

The local leader added that SPDC authorities are fearful that the political temperature is rising, particularly in Arakan State, and that there is a chance that their proxy parties might not get the support they are expecting.