PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — Eighty-two individuals have been charged or are under investigation in Irrawaddy Division for violating Burma’s election law on polling day, according to local police.
Allegations include soliciting votes on religious grounds and proxy voting, with at least four cases already brought to trial, according to Aung Naing Moe, a spokesperson for the Irrawaddy Division police force.
“As there are complaints, we have opened 82 cases under the election law. Some cases are being investigated and some have already been brought to trial in Hinthada and Pyapon townships,” Aung Naing Moe said.
Complaints were filed between Nov. 8 and Nov. 22 at various police stations, according to the police officer, with many filed by members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which suffered a bruising defeat at the polls.
Reportedly among the accused are 10 members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), with other persons including polling officers and staff as well as voters.
Of the 82 cases, 29 originated in Hinthada Township, 21 in Pyapon Township, 19 in Pathein Township, seven in Maubin Township and six in Myaungmya Township, according to the divisional police force. None of the defendants are being held in detention.
Chairman of the NLD in Irrawaddy Division, Dr Myo Nyunt, said it appeared authorities were quick to accept complaints from USDP members, whereas complaints submitted by NLD representatives were relayed through several layers of bureaucracy.
“We’ve filed complaints regarding three cases of voters’ casting ballots twice in Pyapon Township. We sought the remarks of township law officers to file the charge and they submitted it to district [officers] who again submitted the complaint to divisional [officers],” said Dr Myo Nyunt.
Aung Myint, chairman of the Irrawaddy Division election sub-commission, said some plaintiffs had sought to withdraw their complaints.
“Some have asked to withdraw the charges after filing a complaint with the police because there was not enough evidence. Police stations do not close the case immediately but seek the remarks of township election sub-commissions. They have to decide whether it is acceptable that the case will be closed,” he said.
Complaints, which can be filed up to 45 days after the poll, have also been filed with the divisional election sub-commission, with at least one case forwarded to the Union Election Commission.
Translated by Thet Ko Ko.