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Election 2015: Chin campaigning stuck in the mud

Many of the roads in Chin State are flooded or too muddy for aid trucks to get through, 20 July 2015. (PHOTO: Zaumu Ban Awng/ DVB).

While the election campaigns are under way across the country, political parties in Chin State say they are struggling to reach rural areas due to the destruction to transportation and other infrastructure caused by monsoonal floods last month.

Speaking to DVB on Tuesday, Salai Thian Uk Thang, secretary of the Chin National Democratic Party (CNDP), said, “It is very hard to travel from one village to another. Locals are struggling to put their homes and livelihoods back together, while others are in the middle of resettlement efforts as their homes are relocated.

“Needless to say, their interest in the elections is low,” he added.

In state capital Hakha, at least five or six neighbourhoods face total relocation because of the damage suffered to their homes due to landslides. Some 500 to 1,000 persons are currently being provided shelter while seismic teams inspect two new locations outside the city. A decision is expected by the state government sometime in the weeks ahead.

Formerly the Chin National Party, the CNDP is registered to contest all 39 constituencies across the state, plus a smattering of townships in the Arakan, Sagaing and Pegu [Bago] regions where ethnic Chins are in significant numbers. The party says its policies include: bringing about a federal union; amending the 2008 constitution; and enacting laws that protect ethnic minorities.

Another leading Chin party, Zomi Congress for Democracy (ZCD), said it too is struggling to reach the electorate. Central committee member Cin Suan Mang said, “As everyone knows, pretty much all the roads and bridges were damaged in the monsoon rains. We are using bicycles to get from one place to another. We cannot use our cars. This is very depressing.”

Meanwhile, another Chin party, the Asho Chin National Party (ACNP), is listed to run in in eight constituencies – those with significant ethnic Asho populations, none of which are in Chin State, but rather in areas in the surrounding regions of Arakan, Pegu and Magwe.

Party leader Salai Aung Min Hlaing said the party’s main policies are: to adopt a democratic system; create a market economy; and establish a federal union.

Other Chin-based parties include: Khumi National Party, Chin League for Democracy, Chin Progressive Party, and Zo National Region Development Party.

Read more DVB election coverage