National League for Democracy decries leaflet campaign

MANDALAY — National League for Democracy members in Mandalay on Saturday reported finding leaflets outside city residents’ homes urging people not to vote for their party, NLD sources said.

The note was titled “Time to Change,” which is the NLD’s election slogan. But instead of urging people to vote for the NLD, the leaflet said it is time for change in Myanmar “not with the NLD, but for the future of our religion and race.”

Myanmar is scheduled to hold a general election on November 8, which the NLD, led by Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is expected to win.
“We found many people had these outside their homes this morning,” said Kyaw Zayar, a member at NLD’s downtown Mandalay office. “We don’t know for sure who did this, but I think this is Ma Ba Tha.”

Ma Ba Tha is the acronym for the ultra-nationalist monk movement, the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, which has accused the NLD of being pro-Muslim, and has urged people not to vote for the main opposition party.

“The current government is not good, but it is not as bad as a “kalar” [a derogatory term for people of Indian descent] government… We cannot put power in the hands of the NLD, which relies on Muslims,” the note said.

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In an interview with Reuters in October, controversial monk U Wirathu said that “NLD people are so full of themselves. They don’t have a high chance of winning in elections,” adding that a vote for President Thein Sein’s Union Solidarity and Development Party is best for the country.

The USDP won the 2010 general election, which was boycotted by the NLD. The party is packed with ex-military officers including former General U Thein Sein, the current president.

By Oliver Slow

By Oliver Slow

Oliver Slow is a Southeast Asia-based journalist. He is a former Chief-of-Staff at Frontier, and is writing a book about Myanmar's transition.
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