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Politics

NLD Members Accused of Trespassing While Verifying Voter Lists in Naypyidaw

Two opposition party members are accused of trespassing while carrying out a voter list verification drive, and could face legal action in the coming weeks.


RANGOON — Two opposition party members have been accused of trespassing while carrying out a voter list verification drive earlier this month, a party official said, and could face legal action in the coming weeks.

Tin Htay and Sein Maung Myint, members of the Naypyidaw chapter of the National League for Democracy (NLD), were notified by police on Friday that they had been reported as trespassers while visiting a residence in the capital’s Zabuthiri Township.

The pair was among a crew of NLD members canvassing door-to-door to check residents’ names and personal information against newly released preliminary voter lists that have been called out as highly erroneous.

The voter lists, which have been displayed in batches across the country since March, have come under intense scrutiny as a landmark general election nears.
The NLD’s door-to-door campaign is geared toward identifying inaccuracies and assisting voters to request revisions and ensure eligibility on election day.

Township NLD Chairman U Swe told The Irrawaddy that the party was notified nearly a week after the two men visited residents, and that it is unclear what—if any—legal action will follow.

The pair was accused of violating article 447 of Burma’s Penal Code, which could result in up to three months in prison.

“We learned about it on Friday last week, as the police summoned us,” U Swe said. “Since then we haven’t heard anything else about it yet.”

One of the accused, Tin Htay, said he and Sein Maung Myint had sought permission to enter the premises in question on the day of their visit, and that nothing seemed amiss.

Tin Htay, one of the accused, told the Irrawaddy that they first sought permission to enter the building on the day.

“We explained why we were there. They warmly welcomed us and provided a list of eligible voters in their household,” he recalled. “We saw nothing going wrong there.”

The NLD’s U Swe said he suspected that local authorities could have manufactured the problem, as he was also recently summoned to the township election commission office and asked to sign a paper acknowledging that the party’s voter list verification practices could turn out to be problematic.

U Swe said that he refused to sign the document on the grounds that the Union Election Commission (UEC) Chairman, Tin Aye, had publicly called on political parties to participate in ensuring that voter lists were accurate.

“I refused to do what they asked, we are just reviewing the voter lists to be sure they are accurate,” he said.

The Zabuthiri Township election commission office was not immediately available for comment.

Burma’s opposition leader, NLD Chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, told reporters at the nation’s Parliament on Monday that she believed the accusation could have been meant to intimidate her party.

“Without the house owner’s permission, no one would have gotten inside. Plus, there were other people there at the time. This could be regarded as intimidation, the truth will be revealed in court,” she said.