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The battle to succeed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as the Lower House lawmaker representing Rangoon Division’s Kawhmu township is shaping up to be a crowded contest, with nine candidates registered to compete for the seat in a 1 April by-election.
Southern Rangoon district election commission chair Myat Soe said there are two independent candidates among the nine, with the rest representing political parties including parliamentary hopefuls from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and the formerly ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.
He noted that the number of candidates in Kawhmu for the upcoming by-election has nearly doubled compared with the five who vied for the seat in the 2015 general election.
“There are nine candidates competing for the [Kawhmu] seat — two independent candidates and seven party representatives including from the NLD, USDP, Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, Dr Nay Zin Latt’s [National Development Party] and U Thu Wai’s [Democratic Party-Myanmar],” said Myat Soe.
Those with by-election ambitions were required to register their candidacies with the Union Election Commission (UEC) by December 7.
The NLD’s candidate is Kyaw Win Swe, an English tutor and the son of well-known writer Myaung Mya Ba Swe.
According to data from the UEC, 96 candidates will compete for 19 vacant seats in the by-elections scheduled for 1 April, 2017.
Suu Kyi, who first won the Kawhmu seat in a 2012 by-election, was re-elected on 8 November, 2015, with a commanding majority: 54,676 votes, compared with the next closest candidate, the USDP’s Kyaw Zin Hein, who won 15,312.
She vacated the seat in March, when she took up positions as minister of the President’s Office, foreign affairs, electric power and energy, and education. She has since ceded the ministerial portfolios for education, and electric power and energy, while taking the role of state counsellor, a post tailor-made for her in light of a constitutional ban on her assuming the presidency.
Kawhmu township registered just under 120,000 residents in the 2014 census.
The by-election’s official campaigning period will run from the end of January to late March.