VOA Burmese Blog

September 2, 2010

Burma Democracy Candidates Complain of High Fees, Restrictions

– VOA News

Political parties taking part in Burma’s upcoming elections say they have not been able to enter as many candidates as they want because of restrictive election laws and high registration fees.

Opposition parties say because of a lack of funds, they have been forced to scale back the number of contenders, making it impossible to effectively challenge the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

The National Democratic Force, made up of former members of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, says it will only be able to present about 140 candidates compared to the USDP, which will have candidates for all 1,162 seats.

The November 7 vote will elect 498 people to a national parliament and another 664 will be spread among 14 regional legislatures.

Critics say the election is a sham and that the military shows little sign of giving up control. The system of registering candidates is one of the many rules critics point to as weighted in the military’s favor.

Last week, Aung San Suu Kyi urged her supporters to monitor the election and report any irregularities.

Speaking through her lawyer, Nyan Win, she said members of her now-disbanded party, the National League for Democracy, cannot ignore the election even if they boycott it. Nyan Win spoke to reporters Wednesday, a day after meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.

He quoted the Nobel Peace laureate as saying the election cannot be free and fair without freedom of expression and a free press. He said she suggests that people who had wanted to vote for her party should not vote at all.

The election will take place without the participation of major political figures.

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