Yangon — Myanmar’s military or Tatmadaw has welcomed the Arakan Army’s (AA) proposal to hold elections before the end of December in Rakhine State’s constituencies where voting was canceled on Nov. 8.
The AA on November 12 issued a statement requesting the civilian National League for Democracy (NLD) government and the military authorities hold the additional polling by Dec. 31.
Over security concerns, the Union Election Commission (UEC) canceled balloting in nine northern Rakhine townships — Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Pauktaw, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Myebon — although political parties argued that Pauktaw and Maungdaw were relatively stable.
Moreover, voting was partially canceled in four other townships, including four village-tracts in the state capital Sittwe, two wards and 49 village-tracts in Kyaukphyu, three wards and 25 village-tracts in Ann, and 10 wards and 52 village-tracts in Taungup.
The AA promised to assist in coordination with the government and other organizations to create a stable environment to hold voting.
The Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services welcomed the armed group’s suggestion, saying it would coordinate to hold voting.
Military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said: “The Tatmadaw welcomes the statement of the United League of Arakan/AA. We agree. We also agree to coordinate to hold voting in Mongkaing.”
Mongkaing Township is controlled by the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in Shan State. The RCSS only allowed Shan political parties to campaign in the township, particularly targeting the Ta’ang National Party (TNP). After the TNP filed a complaint with the UEC, the electoral body decided to cancel voting in the township.
Due to the cancellation of balloting, over 1.2 million out of 1.64 million voters in Rakhine State were disenfranchised, according to the state election sub-commission.
AA information officer Khaing Thuka said: “The situation can get worse if there is no space for politics and democracy. To avoid fiercer clashes, dialogue is the best solution. Only political dialogue will solve political problems.”
He said the armed group has announced a unilateral ceasefire and clashes will come to a complete halt when the Tatmadaw stops its assaults.
The UEC has the final say about conducting the delayed voting.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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