Pyithu speaker to campaign for by-election in Yangon

By HEIN KO SOE | FRONTIER

YANGON — Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker U Win Myint will tomorrow kickstart the National League for Democracy’s by-election campaign in Yangon, with appearances around the city planned over the next three days.

Win Myint will lead campaign activities from March 2 to 4 in the four Pyithu Hluttaw and one Amyotha Hluttaw constituencies up for grabs in Myanmar’s largest city, the NLD said in a statement.

Altogether 19 seats are being contested nationally, the majority in Shan State, with voting to take place on April 1.

Although the two-month campaign period officially opened on January 30, activities have been largely muted. Candidates from the NLD and other parties have held small events in their constituencies in recent weeks, but Win Myint’s arrival marks a significant scaling-up of election activities.

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The by-elections present a test for the NLD given they will be without the star power of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is barred from campaigning. Under the constitution, all members of government are prohibited from taking part in party activities.

As a member of parliament rather than the government, there is no prohibition on Win Myint campaigning, however.

“We don’t permit any Union-level minister to campaign for their party because they shouldn’t be partisan,” said U Hla Tint, a member of the Union Election Commission.

U Thin Yu, the Union Solidarity and Development Party candidate for Hlaing Tharyar, said he was unaware of the speaker’s planned campaign activities.

“I will watch his campaign [closely]. If he breaks any electoral law I will complain to the [electoral] commission,” Thin Yu said.

All campaign activities must be approved in advance by a township committee comprising representatives of registered candidates, the township election commission and the township general administrative department, Hla Tint said.

U Thein Soe, chair of the Hlaing Tharyar Township Election Commission, said Win Myint’s proposal had already been approved.

“We already met with each candidate and they approved the campaign of the Hluttaw speaker, so we permitted it,” he said.

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