Election 2020

NLD Sues Chief of Myanmar Military Proxy Party for Using Inflammatory Rhetoric Ahead of Election

By Thiha Lwin 28 December 2020

NAYPYITAW—The National League for Democracy (NLD) has filed a complaint with the Union Election Commission (UEC) against Union Solidarity and Development Party chairman U Than Htay, accusing him of soliciting votes on racial and religious grounds ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. U Than Htay won a Lower House seat representing Naypyitaw’s Zayarthiri Township in the election.

“[U Than Htay] spoke of religious and racial issues at his rallies during the campaign period. And there were other cases. So, we have filed complaints in line with the election law in response to those incidents,” said U Thet Htwe, a representative of the NLD’s candidate for Zayarthiri, Dr. Moe Swe, who filed the complaint with the UEC.

He claimed to have considerable evidence, including audio and video files of U Than Htay attempting to abuse religion for political purposes. He also accused the USDP of destroying an NLD campaign signboard and stoning one of the party’s vehicles during the campaign period.

USDP spokesman Dr. Nanda Hla Myint said he had been informed about the complaint and the party would face it in line with the law.

NLD lawyer Daw Su Darli Aung said, “In our complaint, we have reported in detail the activities of U Than Htay and his supporters during the campaign period.”

Candidates from the USDP, NLD, Union Betterment Party and Yeomanry Development Party contested the seat.

U Than Htay secured 36,325 votes, over 5,300 votes more than Dr. Moe Swe.

According to the UEC, there are 82,214 eligible voters in the township. It said voter turnout was 87.65 percent, with 1,899 invalid votes and six missing votes.

Home to most of the military units in the Naypyitaw Union Territory, Zayarthiri Township is a stronghold of the USDP, which is widely viewed as the military’s proxy. The party also won the Lower House seat there in the 2010 and 2015 polls, with General Thura Shwe Mann winning in 2010 and General Hla Htay Win in 2015. Both held the position of Chief of General Staff (Army, Navy and Air) at the time of their victories.

U Than Htay graduated with the 18th intake of the Defense Services Academy. He retired as a brigadier general having served as head of the No. 77 Light Infantry Division to join the government as deputy energy minister. He later served as Union minister for energy and rail transportation.

The NLD won 920 seats in the Nov. 8 election, while the USDP secured just 71. In a number of press conferences since the poll, the latter has raised objections to the outcome. It has also filed complaints with the election body.

There have been over 240 complaints filed with the UEC by parties against other parties in relation to the Nov. 8 poll, compared to just 45 in connection to the voting in  2015.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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