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Ethnic Parties Struggle To Gain Supporters Amid Pandemic 

KSPP youth on the election campaign in Bhamo district, Kachin State. Photo: Bhamo KSPP youth

After the government restricted campaigning to curb coronavirus transmissions during the country’s worst outbreak since the pandemic started, ethnic political parties vying for seats in Kachin State are struggling to gain votes for their cause.

Hkangkum Lum Zawng, a Kachin State People’s Party candidate for Waingmaw Township Constituency-2, told KNG, because of the government’s restrictions they can’t campaign in churches. “We feel the current government is being too controlling…We have to go door to door for our election campaign.” They usually end up chatting under the shade of a tree because people’s houses are too small to adhere to regulations on social distancing.

Because they can’t sleep in villages Hkangkum Lum Zawng said they have to return at night and he worries about his security. And at the same time, he’s afraid of causing an outbreak during campaigning.

Sai Kyaw Thiha, a Shan Nationalities League for Democracy candidate for Kachin State, shares the same concerns. “I’m worried that I might be the one to spread the virus when I’m campaigning. At the same time, I fear I will get infected.” Although he wants to meet the public, he finds it a “challenge” because of the pandemic.

Lahkam Dau Hkam, chair of Lhaovo National Unity and Development Party, told KNG most villagers are farmers and during the day they’re working in the fields. They usually don’t come home until after 5 p.m. “The problem is the authorities don’t allow us to stay in the village at night.”

Polling is scheduled for November 8.

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