Election 2020: The Week in Review
By San Yamin Aung 24 October 2020
YANGON— ‘Election 2020: The Week in Review’ offers a summary of the most important developments related to the 2020 election during the past week — the stories readers should not miss if they want to understand the electoral landscape. This week (Oct.17 to Oct. 23), unsealed military advance ballots arrived in Yangon’s Dagon township, ethnic parties and locals petitioned the election commission to reconsider no-voting areas, and the controversial Rose Party disbanded over questions of illegal funding.
Election officials reject military’s unsealed advance votes in Yangon
The Dagon township election commission in Yangon has decided not to count advance ballots arriving in unsealed envelopes from 58 military personnel due to a violation of election laws. Article 60 of the Election Law states that military personnel and their relatives can vote in advance when outside their constituencies. But it also says a ballot must be inside a sealed envelope. U Khin Maung Win, the chair of Yangon’s western district election sub commission, said they will ask the Union Election Commission (UEC) to review the case to avoid this happening again.
Ethnic parties ask election commission to reconsider decision on election cancellation areas
Thursday (Oct. 22)
Ethnic parties asked the Union Election Commission (UEC) to review its decision on election cancellation areas in their constituencies, complaining that it included places considered relatively safe for voting.
On Oct. 22, Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD) candidates submitted a petition asking the Union Election Commission to remove conflict-free area Mong Kung township from the state’s election cancellation list and allow voting. The petition was signed by more than 10,000 voters in Mong Kaung township. The other three parties contesting in the township—National League for Democracy (NLD), Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and Shan Nationalities Democratic Party—joined in that request. Ta’ang National Party also submitted a petition separately to the UEC to reconsider for cancellation areas in six townships of Shan State.
Arakan Front Party candidates also asked the election commission to remove Pauktaw township in Rakhine State from the no-voting areas on Oct. 22 since there was no fighting in the township.
On Oct. 18, five ethnic parties from Kachin, Kayah, Chin and Mon states jointly called for the UEC to reconsider election cancellation in order to ensure that ethnic minorities could equally exercise their right to vote.
Arakan Army Admits Abducting Three Myanmar Ruling Party Candidates
Monday (Oct. 19)
The Arakan Army admitted abduction of three NLD candidates in Rakhine State’s Taungup township. Daw Ni Ni May Myint, Daw Chit Chit Chaw and U Min Aung, were abducted by AA troops in plainclothes while campaigning in Hpaung Kha village on Wednesday of last week. Daw Ni Ni May Myint and U Min Aung are sitting lawmakers in the township. According to witnesses, the AA members physically abused the candidates and party members who accompanied them, including slapping and kicking them, cursed them as “traitors” and “backstabbers” and told them to remove clothing bearing NLD logos. Their phones, party flag and party funds were also taken.
In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, the AA said it would not release the candidates until the government freed all ethnic Rakhine politicians and civilians arrested for affiliation with the AA and student protesters detained for demanding peace. Read more about the AA statement on abduction here.
Election Commission Dissolves UDP or Rose Party
Saturday (Oct. 17)
The Union Election Commission has dissolved the United Democratic Party (UDP), better known as the Rose Party, for breaching the Political Party Registration Law, after a series of police investigations found that the party’s leader funded the party with money illegally transferred from China. The party’s boss, U Kyaw Myint, is under police detention on a fugitive warrant related to his escape from a prison in 1999. Following the party’s dissolution, more than 30,000 UDP members from Karen State’s Myawaddy joined the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in support of its campaign in the November election.
President and State Counselor to cast advance vote
President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have applied for advance voting outside constituencies in Naypyitaw due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. U Win Myint will vote candidates for Yangon region’s Tamwe township and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will vote candidates for Yangon’s Bahan township. In previous elections, the two leaders returned back to Yangon to cast their ballots. Voters outside constituencies can apply for advance voting until Oct. 25.
At least 7 campaigners killed in rallies accidents this week
On Oct. 18, a 38-year-old woman who joined the NLD’s campaign convoy in Ayeyarwady region’s Kyonpyaw Township was killed after her motorcycle hit with a bus. On the same day, one of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD)’s campaign vehicles fell into Shweli River in Muse while on the campaign trail. The car had seven passengers. Three were rescued. The bodies of three women were recovered, and a five-old-child has yet to be found.
Three women who were among campaigners of Pa-O National Organization (PNO) touring around Shan State’s Hsi Hseng township were killed on the spot after their vehicle overturned when tire burst about 6 p.m. on Oct. 22. A few others in the same vehicle were also injured, one severely enough to be hospitalized. The PNO and SNLD said they will take full responsibility to assist the families of the victims.
More election-related stories:
While the military chief faced complaints, its proxy party is recycling its old divisive tactics in the campaign, skirting election law prohibitions.
The four election commissions between 1990 and 2020 have all had their own shortcomings.
In Kayah State, an alliance between ethnic parties and dissatisfaction with the NLD’s record over the past five years could hurt the ruling camp in the election.
From freedom of belief to standing for election, Myanmar Muslims still face obstacles; they said they will support a force that values human rights and democracy.
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