The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), backed solidly by the military government, appears to be doing better in its election campaigns in the country than in the cities, according to sources from inside Shan State.
“The fact is people in the rural areas see the USDP as the government,” said a businessman from the Monghsu gemland. “And being the government, it has power. Which means it would only be foolish not to comply with its wishes. To make things worse, many of the USDP candidates like U Kyaw Tin Swe here are behaving as if the defunct USDP (Union Solidarity and Development Association set up by the ruling junta in 1993, the parent organization of the USDP) is still around.”
The USDA has been accused by the opposition and the exile media as the group that attacked the motorcade escorting Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy icon, in 2003 in Upper Burma.
Kyaw Tin Swe had been reportedly scolding the village headmen who had allowed the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) to conduct its campaign in the countryside around Monghsu.
In contrast, the USDP candidates had asked authorities in Nyaungshwe Haw Gon Quarter, Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, on 11 October. However, no one turned up. “They ended up hiring girls working at the karaoke bar in the quarter to listen to their speeches,” said a local resident.
The USDP’s main rival however is not the SNDP, but the NUP (National Unity Party, the party set up by the late Gen Ne Win) that is fielding 999 candidates, second only to the USDP in the whole country. “Even if the SNDP wins the most seats in Shan State, it doesn’t mean it will become the Shan State government,” commented a resident from Lashio, the state’s second capital.
“It is the president who is going to choose the chief minister and he is not required to choose the leader of the largest winning party, according to the junta-drawn constitution.”