Election 2020

Myanmar President, State Counselor’s Pre-Poll Campaign Activities Legal: Spokesman

By San Yamin Aung 8 January 2021

YANGON—Neither Myanmar President U Win Myint nor State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did anything that breached the Constitution or the Union Election Commission (UEC)’s rules and directives while taking part in the ruling party’s activities ahead of the Nov. 8 vote, a government spokesperson said on Friday in response to a legal challenge mounted against the two state leaders.

Mandalay-based lawyer U Zaw Wait of the Democratic Party of National Politics (DNP), which was formed by a former military advocate general, filed an application with the Supreme Court asking it to issue a writ against the President, State Counselor, military chief and the chairperson of a constitutional tribunal for failing to act within the limits of their powers.

U Zaw Htay said that while the Constitution bans the President and Union ministers from engaging in party activities during their terms of office, according to Article 38(a) of the Constitution, the Union Government Law and the UEC’s directive regarding campaigning, government officials are allowed to participate in their parties’ organizational work and activities ahead of the election if they are standing as parliamentary candidates.

Citing the articles and directive, the spokesperson added that the President and State Counselor had the right to take part in the party’s works and that by doing so, they didn’t violate the Constitution as alleged in the writ application. The details of the accusations contained in the application are still unknown.

“No legal violation was made by the President or State Counselor,” he said during a press briefing in Naypyitaw on Friday.

The President and State Counselor stood as parliamentary candidates contesting Lower House seats in Yangon Region’s Tamwe and Kawhmu townships, respectively, in the election. Both were elected.

The President’s Office spokesperson dismissed the legal challenge against the state leaders as the act of people who couldn’t accept their election loss.

“To be frank, these are the acts of those who can’t accept defeat. The public who cast votes know best about the election, and whom they voted for and supported,” he said.

“I would say those who are making false accusations are committing political suicide,” he added.

Following their humiliating loss to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Nov. 8, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the DNP cried foul, claiming the election was “unfair” and “marred by mass fraud”, despite international and domestic election observers reporting no major irregularities.

The USDP only won 71 seats (down from 117 in 2015) or 6.4 percent out of 1,117 contested seats in the Union, state and regional legislatures. The DNP did not win any seats. The NLD won a supermajority with 920 seats (82.3 percent).

The DNP has filed an application of writ against the President and three other government officials, and another against the UEC chairman and 14 others. The USDP has also filed an application of writ against the UEC alleging electoral misconduct.

The Supreme Court announced that all three applications would be heard via a videoconference on Jan. 29 , after which the court’s preliminary hearing board will decide whether to proceed with the applications or not.

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