Cancellation of Election in Ethnic Areas Unfair, Ethnic Parties Say

By Network Media Group
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Ethnic parties said the Union Election Commission (UEC)’s decision to cancel polling in ethnic townships across Burma was unfair and will reduce votes for their parties during the 2020 election.

UEC announced the cancelation of the election in a number of village-tracts and townships in Kachin, Shan, Rakhine, Karen, Mon states and Bago Region. Ethnic parties said after polling has been stopped in those areas it’s impossible to hold a fair race.

Nyi Sein, chair of Ta’ang National Party (TNP), told NMG the “election should be free and fair” but it appears the bigger parties are “intentionally oppressing the ethnic political parties.”

Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) general secretary Myo Kyaw said many will lose their voting rights, while ethnic parties will lose many constituencies. “They canceled the election in areas affected by the conflict because they fear for the safety of locals. But they’re not canceling the election in Yangon. What is their plan to protect people from the pandemic?” he asked.

Nyi Sein said it was still possible to allow polling in the same constituencies as the 2015 race, despite “regional instability”.” He questioned why the government could not bring peace to areas affected by conflict.

The UEC’s decision was criticized by five ethnic parties in a joint statement released on October 18. All citizens have the right to participate in politics, the statement said, and cancelling the election in the ethnic regions pushes ethnic people to seek political change outside of the parliamentary process. It called for the UEC to review its decision to ensure equality during the electoral process.

The statement was signed by the Mon Unity Party, Kachin State People’s Party, Karen National Democratic Party, Kayah State Democratic Party and Chin National League for Democracy.

Voting was cancelled in 6 townships in Shan State. And in 17 townships, it was stopped in 8 wards and 129 village-tracts. In Rakhine State, polling isn’t allowed at all in 9 townships but in other townships it’s stopped in 15 wards and 137 village-tracts. In Karen State, it’s canceled in 52 village-tracts in 6 townships. In Kachin State, 192 village-tracts in 11 townships. And 42 village-tracts in two townships in Bago Region and 1 village-tract in 1 township in Mon State.