PATHEIN, Ayeyarwady Region—The Pathein District Election Sub-commission has warned individual candidates against campaigning on Facebook before the official campaign period, according to commission chair U Tint Lwin.
The district election sub-commission issued a warning to political parties last Wednesday, he said, following criticisms that candidates from various parties as well as independent candidates are soliciting votes on Facebook.
“[Individual candidates] are not allowed to solicit votes before the commission sets the campaign period, though [parties] are allowed to rally public support,” he said.
While the Union Election Commission (UEC) has not officially opened the election campaigning period, it said that from Sept. 8 to Nov. 6, political parties will be allowed to present their policies in 15 minute spots through state broadcasters.
“If individual candidates share posts [that ask for votes] in a competitive way, this can result in unnecessary problems, so we have issued a warning to all the political parties to ensure impartiality,” said U Tint Lwin.
The district election sub-commission has also warned those who have submitted candidacy applications not to describe themselves as candidates or solicit votes online before the commission approves them as candidates.
“The commission has not yet assessed their eligibility. They are still candidacy applicants. Only after the commission approves them, they will be candidates. Even then, they still are not allowed to do campaigning,” U Tint Lwin explained.
It is not clear if the warning was issued at the national level. “We can accept it if the warning is issued to all the parties. But we are a new party and we have to introduce ourselves to the people,” said Dr. Aye Nyein Tun, a candidate from the People’s Pioneer Party in Pathein. “We don’t ask for votes but we have to introduce ourselves to the people.”
The UEC will assess the eligibility of candidates from Aug. 11-17 and will then announce which candidates have qualified to run in November’s election. In Pathein District, a total of 160 people, including representatives from 15 political parties and independents, have submitted applications to run in the election.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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