Monday, 25 May 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The director of the Burma border security force Nasaka, Aung Gyi, called religious leaders from Maungdaw to a meeting at his office on October 17 to discuss upcoming elections, an election watchdog group in Maungdaw said.

Moulana Syedul Amin and five others met the Nasaka director and his assistant, Syed Alam, at the security headquarters in Kyikanpin village.

Aung Gyi told the assembled religious leaders to organize support for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) among local Rohingya communities in order to help secure victory for the party during the election scheduled for November 7, said a source within Nasaka who asked not to be named.

An elder in Kyikanpin village said this tactic for getting support was becoming more common as the election approaches.

“It is one method the USDP uses to get more support from local residents by relying on its relationship to the ruling junta to put pressure on community leaders to deliver votes for the party,” the elder said.

Moulana Syedul Amin, a prominent religious leader in Maungdaw, has faced increasing pressure to direct other leaders to muster Rohingya support for the USDP, the watchdog group said.

Amin has said little about the pressure but has made efforts to encourage support for the USDP among Rohingya and Rakhine communities.

Meanwhile, campaigning has continued this week as USDP representatives visited Kyeinchang village in northern Maungdaw and brought paid supporters from Aleythankyaw village to show the party was popular in southern Maungdaw, the watchdog group said.

The paid supporters were reportedly organized by Syed Ullah, a former member of the Burma Socialist Program Party.

Members of the National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) visited Kyeinchang village today, where they were warmly welcomed by local residents, the watchdog group said.

But a war of words broke out during one event when Nurul Alam, a USDP supporter, and Moulana Anwar of the NDPD argued over the two parties’ differing platforms and local authorities had to intervene, the group said.

“It is your choice to vote for whoever you want,” one NDPD candidate was reported as saying during the meeting in Kyeinchang village. “If you vote for us and we win, we will build roads, clinics and schools. We will also try to do much more if we win the coming election.”