Kachin Warlord to Appeal Loss of Parliamentary Seat

By Htun Htun 8 July 2016

RANGOON — Veteran Kachin militia leader Zahkung Ting Ying has appealed against the ruling of a post-election tribunal, which required that he vacate his seat in the Upper House of Parliament, according to Hla Han, the lawyer defending his case.

On June 24, the tribunal in Naypyidaw—comprised of three members of the Union Election Commission (UEC)—pronounced Zahkung Ting Ying guilty of breaching Article 66 of the Upper House Election Law, which outlines electoral “malpractices” including “committing violence,” “false accusations,” “creating public unrest,” and obstructing a party or person “for the purpose of electing a [parliamentary] candidate.”

His rival independent candidate Yaw Na and a National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate, San Wai Khaung Lwan—who competed in another constituency in the same area of eastern Kachin State—both filed cases against him with a tribunal established by the UEC in December last year to settle post-election disputes.

The cases filed against Zahkung alleged intimidation, defamation and violence against other candidates during the election campaign period last year, via Zahkung’s private militia—the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), which is firmly allied with the Burma Army and became a Border Guard Force in 2009.

As an independent candidate, Zahkung won the Upper House seat of Kachin State-5, a sparsely populated area covering Chipwi, Tsawlaw and Injingyang townships. He was also a lawmaker under the previous government, from 2011.

Zahkung’s lawyer Hla Han told The Irrawaddy, “We decided to appeal because local supporters of Zahkung opposed the ruling. We heard that they are preparing to stage a protest. What’s more, there were some errors in the [tribunal’s] judgment.”

Zahkung released a statement on July 1 requesting his supporters not to organize protests for fear that it might lead to “unnecessary problems.”

If Zahkung loses the appeal, his independent rival Yaw Nar would assume his parliamentary seat since he was the runner-up in the poll with around 3,000 votes to Zahkung’s approximately 5,000.

Electoral laws state that either party to a dispute can appeal a tribunal ruling within 15 days. All appeals will be heard by the UEC, without judicial or parliamentary oversight.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko