Maungdaw, Arakan State: Candidates and supporters of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Maungdaw Township have used threats and intimidation to gain support from local residents, said one elder from Maungdaw.
USDP candidate Aung Zaw Win warned residents during a meeting yesterday organized by the Regional Development Association (RDA) that not voting for the junta-backed party would bring harm to Maungdaw, said the elder.
"You are not voting for me. You are voting for the ruling government. If you fail, it will be difficult for you after the election," Aung Zaw Win was quoted by the elder as saying at the meeting.
Threats have also been made by supporters of the USDA from Rangoon who have come to Maungdaw in advance of national elections slated for November 7, said a politician from Maungdaw.
One group of supporters led by Nasir Amhed told about 50 residents of Shweza village that if they did not vote for USDP candidates in their respective villages, they could be fined up to 100,000 kyats and serve one year in prison, the politician said.
In Kyikanpin village, USDP supporter Kyaw Tha urged residents to vote for his party or face potential harm after the election.
A student from Maungdaw said that the USDP's Aung Zaw Win has gathered residents from Ngakura village and surrounding areas to travel with party candidates to campaign events in southern Maungdaw to try to show that they have the support of local voters.
"Aung Zaw Win brought a Pajero SUV from Rangoon with a bumper sticker featuring the logo of the party with a lion for the campaign," the student said.
Meanwhile, campaigners in opposition to the forthcoming elections have placed stickers on electricity polls in Maungdaw that read: "No 2010 Election" and "Boycott Election 2010", but security forces removed them shortly after they were put up and few people were able to see them.
Anti-election campaigns in Arakan State have cropped up since last month in Munaung, Kyaukpyu, Myebon, Minbya, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Buthidaung, and Maungdaw townships.
Members of the anti-election campaign are expected to distribute more than 1,000 stickers in about 12 villages in Toungup and Mayee towns in opposition to the 2008 Constitution and the November 7 election later today, according to a report from the Arakan Review website.