Wed 15 Sep 2010
Filed under: Inside Burma
Three of Myanmar’s top retired generals have registered to contest the Nov 7 general elections as candidates of the main pro-junta party, officials said Wednesday.Prime Minister Thein Sein, Shwe Mann and Tin Aung Myint Oo, who retired from their military posts last month, have registered their names as candidates of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to run in townships in Naypyitaw, Myanmar’s capital since 2004.
‘Their names were in the list approved by the election commission,’ an official who requested anonymity said.
The candidates retired from their military posts as part of a mass military reshuffle that was seen as part of the ruling military regime’s preparations for the polls, the first to be held in 20 years. The retirements provided them with the civilian status needed to contest a general election.
‘These three top men only needed to compete with candidates from the National Unity Party because other political parties did not submit for the list in Naypyitaw,’ said an official in Naypyitaw, located 350 kilometres north of Yangon.
The National Unity Party (NUP) is another pro-junta political party set up to contest the polls.
Altogether, 37 parties have been registered to run, but only the military-supported parties, such as the USDP and NUP, have been able to field sufficient candidates to win a majority in the upcoming polls for the lower, upper and regional houses of parliament.
The registration fee per candidate was $500, a large sum in Myanmar, where the per-capita annual income is less than $600.
The largest opposition party, the National Democratic Force, was only able to field 160 candidates because of a lack of funding.
Under Myanmar’s new constitution, which goes into effect once a new parliament is set up, the military would appoint one-quarter of the seats in the lower and upper houses, giving it veto power over all legislation.
It was widely expected that the first session of parliament would nominate former military generals, such as Shwe Mann and Tin Aung Myint Oo, as candidates to be Myanmar’s next president.
It was also possible that the current junta chief, Senior General Than Shwe, would be nominated to be president, observers said.
Under the constitution, Myanmar’s next president must have ‘military experience’, but it is not necessary for him to be an elected politician.