Thousands denied vote in upcoming Myanmar election

5 townships in eastern Shan state, including 4 controlled by insular guerrilla rebels, to be left out of Nov 8 poll

Thousands denied vote in upcoming Myanmar election

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thousands of people will be denied the right to vote in a landmark general election in Myanmar this year because leaders in some rebel-controlled areas have barred officials from collecting voter lists, the country's election commission told local media Friday.

Five townships in eastern Shan state, including four of the seven controlled by insular guerrilla rebels from the Wa minority, will be left out of the Nov. 8 poll, The Myanmar Times reported.

A representative for the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which controls an area near the Chinese border covering a population of roughly 600,000, told the newspaper that immigration officials were “unwilling” to travel to the area to provide people with the documents they need to vote.

But another member of the UWSA, from the group’s executive committee, added that the militia had “no plans” to discuss the election, the report added.

 “The government or the UEC [Union Election Commission] should negotiate with the ethnic armed group leaders to resolve this,” Sam Sung Kar of the Wa National Unity Party told the newspaper.

Residents in Mong La, another insular area along the Chinese border that is controlled by the National Democratic Alliance Army, will also be excluded from the vote.

The same five regions were excluded from a flawed general election in 2010 that brought the current regime, staffed and led by former generals, to power.

The November poll has been billed as the first credible general election in Myanmar for 25 years, though doubts have been expressed over whether it will be fully free and fair.

Besides those in the Wa and Mong La regions, hundreds of thousands of persecuted Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine state will be excluded from polling booths after the government withdrew the documents that granted them suffrage earlier this year.

And while candidates will contest hundreds of parliamentary seats, a quarter of the legislature will be reserved for unelected members of the notorious military, which in 2011 installed the current reformist government as part of a transition to what it has called a "disciplined democracy".

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from becoming president if her party wins, as is widely expected, because she has two British sons. The military-drafted constitution states no one with foreign relatives is allowed to lead the country.

Her party the National League for Democracy, has been criticized for failing to prepare a successor to run for the presidency in her place, but Suu Kyi said recently that there was “a plan” to deal with this problem.

Twelve parliamentary candidates from the party have dropped out of the vote, the Myanmar Times also reported Friday, because they failed to meet election rules or were allegedly put under “pressure” from authorities.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Ağustos 2015, 14:09
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