Thursday, 23 September 2021

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidates and village authorities have collaborated with local police and Burma border security force (Nasaka) officials to coerce residents to vote for the junta-backed party in upcoming elections next month, a village elder said.

USDP candidates made promises to villagers during a campaign stop in Taungbro that they would develop roads, schools and health facilities if they were elected, according to a resident in attendance, though the resident noted that nothing was said about lifting restrictions on marriage and mobility of Rohingyas.

After the meeting, USDP candidates along with Nasaka officials from Area 3 met with supporters of the National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD), warning them to vote for the junta-backed party or face dire consequences.

USDP candidate Aung Zaw Win reportedly told the NDPD supporters that his party had the full support of Burma’s present regime.

An election watchdog group from Maungdaw said Aung Zaw Win invoked the power of Burma’s ruling junta despite express orders not to by the election commission.

“The district election commission had warned the USDP candidate, Aung Zaw Win, not to use the name of the ruling junta, but he continues to do so in order to convince people of the power of the state,” the group said.

Other reports emerged of voter intimidation. When NDPD candidates stopped to campaign in Kyauk Hla Gaar village yesterday, many local residents expressed their support for the party.

Nasaka officials responded by traveling to the village and making a list of names of the supporters to be filed at Nasaka headquarters in Kawar Bill in Maungdaw Township, said a villager who witnessed the event, who added that people feared that they would be arrested, but that so far no arrests had been made.

NDPD candidate Soe Win and party secretary general Mohamed Khhan gave campaign speeches in Saley Pyin village on October 24, during which they told residents to vote according to their own desires.

Soe Win reportedly told the crowd “to vote as you like and don’t worry. If we are elected we will do whatever it is in our capacity to do for the nation.”

USDP Chairman and State Peace and Development Council Prime Minister Thein Sein told reporters recently that there was no need to worry about opposition parties and that the easiest way to deal with them would be to accuse them of conniving with illegal armed groups.