Ethnic minorities in Myanmar seek greater representation in next parliament


    YANGON: Ethnic minorities in Myanmar are seeking greater representation in the next elected parliament in 2016, saying that their nominees will not limit themselves to contesting only ethnic minority constituencies, an official report said Friday.

    The Nationalities Brotherhood Federation (NBF), a coalition of 23 ethnic political parties, is sending 710 candidates to contest in the upcoming general election set for Nov. 8.

    Of the 710 NBF candidates, 381 will seek seats in local state parliaments, 116 in the House of Nationalities (Upper House), 184 in the House of Representatives (Lower House) and 29 in parliament for ethnic minorities.

    NBF targets three fourth of its candidates to win seats.

    According to a preliminary candidate list announced by the commission earlier, a total of 6,189 candidates including 5,866 candidates were nominated from 93 political parties and 323 independents have so far registered to run the November election.

    Of the 6,189 nominees, 88 have been disqualified by the commission but rights were offered to them to appeal against the rejection.

    The commission also designated 1,171 constituencies for the vote at four levels of the parliament across the country with 330 constituencies for the Lower House, 168 for the Upper House, 644 for the Region or State Parliament and 29 for national race representatives.

    In the last 2010 general election, NBF, which then comprised 12 ethnic political parties, won 160 seats in the parliament. Meanwhile, the commission said the finalized list of qualified electoral nominees nationwide will be announced in days and nationwide electoral rolls will be released on Sept. 14 for the upcoming general election. The commission set candidates to canvass for election in their respective constituencies from Sept. 8 to Nov. 6.

    Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday cautioned that without swift assistance for Myanmar’s farmers, “the availability of food will be severely limited,” a UN spokesman told reporters here.

    “Heavy storms, floods and landslides across nearly all of the country’s provinces have dealt a major blow to the country’s agriculture,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

    Myanmar has experienced a month of extreme weather, worsened by the arrival of Cyclone Komen at the end of July, with more than 1. 6 million people being adversely affected and more than 1.4 million acres of farmland inundated.

    “With the water now receding, the Food and Agriculture Organization stressed the need to act quickly to help rural communities get back on their feet,” he said.

    The flood disaster in Myanmar since June has brought the death toll nationwide to 88 and affected more than 330,000 people across the nation, prompting a state of emergency for urgent relief efforts. According to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, most of the deaths were reported in western Rakhine state with at least 55 deaths there. The deadly flood also killed 4,650 cattle, displaced 85,400 people and destroyed 10,956 homes and more than 88,120 hectares of farmland.