19 Face Delta Election Ban after Failing to Report Campaign Expenses

By Salai Thant Zin 21 December 2015

PATHEIN — Of the 503 people who contested the Nov. 8 election in Irrawaddy Division, 19 are facing a five-year campaign ban after failing to disclose their expenses, according to a report by the divisional office of the Union Election Commission.

Election regulations require all candidates to submit campaign expense reports to district offices of the commission, within 30 days of the announcement of the election winner in the relevant constituency. The state and divisional offices of the commission then have a week to display the reports outside their offices and forward them to the UEC’s head office in Naypyidaw.

“We informed the candidates by phone to submit their expense reports and we waited until the 14th of this month,” said Ye Kaung, the Irrawaddy Division commission office’s assistant director. “But 19 of them have yet to submit their reports. We’ll therefore report it to the UEC to declare those candidates disqualified.”

Of those candidates who failed to submit their expenses, four each come from the Myanmar Farmers’ Development Party and the Democratic Party (Myanmar), three from the Karen People’s Party, two from the National Prosperity Party, two independents, and one each from the National Development Party, the National Democratic Force, the Karen National Party and the Federal Union Party.

None of the 19 candidates won the seats they were contesting in Irrawaddy Division, in an election resoundingly won by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). The NLD won 88 of 92 divisional and Union seats contested in the delta, with the remaining four won by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the outgoing incumbents.

Myint Naing, also an assistant director of the divisional UEC office, told The Irrawaddy that disqualified candidates would be barred from contesting the 2020 general election or any byelections in the interim.

Under election bylaws, candidates are only permitted to spend up to 10 million kyats (US$7,685) on their campaigns over the two months preceding an election. Candidates who have failed to submit their expense reports have 15 days to contest their disqualification.