August 19, 2016

REGIONAL STRIFE BARS POLLS UEC decides not to hold election in four townships

Government completed printing ballots for the November-8 election by 21 October. Photo: Kyaw Thu Win
Government completed printing ballots for the November-8 election by 21 October. Photo: Kyaw Thu Win

THE Union Election Commission announced on Tuesday that they will not hold the 8 November election in two townships nor in several village-tracts of another two townships in Shan State on the grounds that the region lacks stability.
The statement the UEC released claimed that the election will not be held in Mongshu Township, Kehsi Township, eight village-tracts in Tangyang Township, five wards and 37 village-tracts in Namtit of Hopang Township as the situation in those areas calls into question the freedom and fairness in which the upcoming election can be held. The Shan State Nationalities Democratic Party-SNDP requested on 19 October that the UEC suspend the election in three townships — Mongshu, Kehsi and Tangyang — in eastern Shan State due to conflict between the Tatmadaw and local armed ethnic groups.
A follow-up letter from the SNDP, signed by the party’s general secretary Sai Hla Kyaw, requested that the UEC resume the election in the three townships once stability had been restored.
Locals said that they did not believe a free election was possible in their area as they are currently displaced by the fighting.
Meanwhile, the UEC announced Tuesday that it would allow civil service personnel, who will be working on the day of the election, to cast advanced votes as of this Thursday if they apply to do so with the relevant ward/village sub-election commissions.
Those who will be on duty on election day will be allowed to cast their votes for the upcoming election on 6 and 7 November, according to the UEC.
Two members of a ward/village sub-election commission will be sent to visit those who cannot get themselves to a polling station in order to collect advanced votes from them. The UEC invited candidates’ agents, observers and media personnel to observe the advanced voting process.
The UEC’s director, U Thaung Hlaing told the press Tuesday that the commission would take action against anyone caught attempting to block Myanmar citizens from voting for the November 8 election if they are entitled to do so.
The final voters’ list will be made publicly available at sub-election commissions nationwide on 2, 6 and 7 November.
The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE), which has monitored political campaigns in 129 townships from 8 September to 18 October has urged all political parties on Tuesday to follow the code of conduct and to use monitoring committees at every level.
At the rallies observed 93 percent of candidates made no personally degrading remarks or inciting comments about any other candidate. At 98 percent of the rallies observed no speaker made any comment about a particular group or person. PACE, however, found that at 2 percent of rallies observed inciting remarks were made about race, religion and/or gender.
PACE also recommends that the Union Election Commission ensure that candidates have equal access to public spaces and freedom of movement.


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