RANGOON — Around 300 people have attended a midday protest in Maungdaw, near the Bangladeshi border in the north of Arakan State, to protest against the inclusion of a Muslim candidate who was briefly barred from contesting the Nov. 8 election.
Monday’s demonstrators called on the Union Election Commission (UEC) to scrutinize the eligibility of khin Zaw Myint, a state parliament candidate for the Democracy and Human Rights Party (DHRP). Initially disqualified by the commission’s Arakan State office, along with 16 other DHRP candidates, Khin Zaw Myint’s appeal was granted by the UEC’s head office at the end of September along with one other candidate from the party.
Khin Maung Than, the Maungdaw Township chairman of the Arakan National Party, said that Khin Zaw Myint applied to contest the election as a member of the predominantly Muslim Kaman ethnic group, one of the 135 “national races” recognized under Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Law.
He told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the Arakan State UEC office had determined the candidate was not Kaman and disqualified him, a decision overturned on appeal for reasons of leniency.
‘‘Our people disagree with the UEC’s decision,” he said.
Had the UEC not overturned the disqualification of Khin Zaw Myint, the DHRP would not have been able to field three candidates, rendering it ineligible to contest the election at all.
Kyaw Min, the DHRP’s chairman, said the UEC had already approved Khin Zaw Myint to contest the election in accordance with the law and said that the demonstrators were “jealous” of his candidacy.
He describes the protestors ‘‘Jealous’’ on Muslim candidate.
Comment was sought from the Arakan State UEC office and Khin Zaw Myint, who did not respond before publication time.
The Maungdaw Township police station was unable to respond to questions on whether official permission had been granted for the protest, with a constable at the station telling The Irrawaddy that the senior officer was “outside”.