RANGOON — The Union Election Commission (UEC) has permitted 11 people disqualified from the Nov. 8 election to rejoin the race, after a UEC tribunal convened on Friday to rule on 18 final appeals lodged by rejected candidates.
The UEC announced on Saturday that two candidates from the National Unity Party, two from the Democracy and Human Rights Party, one from the New National Democracy Party, four from the National Unity Congress Party and two independents would be allowed to contest the poll. Each had their disqualifications repeatedly upheld by various township and district UEC offices.
All those reinstated were initially struck out under Sections 8(b) and 10(c) of the Election Law, which bars candidates from seeking office if they are not citizens, or if they have a parent who was not a citizen at the time of the candidate’s birth.
Hla Myint, the general secretary of National Unity Congress Party, said his candidates had been initially rejected on citizenship grounds, despite the fact that all of the party’s candidates and their parents were Burmese citizens.
The party is fielding eight candidates across constituencies in Rangoon and Mandalay. Its four rejected candidates were Pathi, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group granted official recognition in Burma’s 1973 census but excluded from the country’s 1982 Citizenship Law.
“We don’t know why the commission did this although they are citizens,” said Hla Myint of the UEC’s initial disqualifications. “Only the commission would know. But our assumption is this is purposely cheating, excluding Muslims from competition.”
The Democracy and Human Rights Party initially fielded 18 candidates for the November poll, all of whom were Muslim. 17 were initially disqualified. Friday’s reinstatement of two candidates will prevent the party from being deregistered under provisions of the Election Law that require political parties to field at least three candidates.
Khin Maung Cho and Maung Maung Gyi, the two independents reinstated by the UEC, are both contesting the Lower House Union seat of Pabedan in downtown Rangoon. The pair will be competing against two other independents and five other candidates in the predominantly Muslim township.
A total of 124 candidates were barred from contention after scrutiny by the UEC, according to a Sept. 11 announcement from the commission. The commission did not divulge how many of the 124 remained disqualified or the names of the seven candidates whose final appeals were rejected when contacted on Tuesday.