As Burma Heads for a Historic Vote, the Opposition Decries Campaign Infractions
The Burmese campaign irregularity was round, hard and launched from a slingshot. In March, an unknown assailant fired a betel nut at an opposition party candidate for the April 1 by-elections, nearly causing an injury. The unlikely projectile was one of dozens of campaign infractions documented by the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Burmese party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi that is rejoining the political process after the former military regime ignored its 1990 poll victory and kept a tight grip on power for nearly two more decades. “I don’t think we can consider it a genuinely free and fair election,” Suu Kyi told a news conference on Friday, referring to campaign violations ranging from voters lists featuring dead people to the infamous betel-nut incident.
A little more than a year ago, authorities in Burma, also known as Myanmar, might have jailed a person for keeping an NLD pamphlet hidden under their bed. Today, as the NLD contests 40-plus seats in the parliamentary by-election, the opposition party’s posters are plastered across commercial capital Rangoon. NLD campaign rallies have turned into raucous street parties, with nuns, trishaw drivers and civil servants dancing along to opposition anthems that mock the country’s new hybrid government.
Last year, a semi-civilian administration packed with retired military officers, took office after flawed 2010 elections that the NLD boycotted. Led by President Thein Sein, the new government has signed off on surprising reforms, releasing political prisoners and engaging with democracy icon Suu Kyi, who has been allowed to run for a parliamentary seat in Kawhmu, a poor township in the Irrawaddy Delta south of Rangoon. Whenever Suu Kyi’s convoy has rolled along the bumpy road from Rangoon to Kawhmu, the scene has been remarkably festive, like Mardi Gras and New Year’s rolled into one. It’s hard to reconcile this atmosphere with the scared place where even uttering Suu Kyi’s name was done with darting eyes and hushed tones.
That’s not to diminish the import of some of the election violations detailed by the NLD. The party has complained that its candidates have been occasionally
You can read the rest of this article at:: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/03/31/as-burma-heads-for-a-historic-vote-the-opposition-decries-campaign-infractions/
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