Myanmar Regime Jails Former Election Commission Head

By The Irrawaddy 30 November 2021

U Hla Thein, the chairman of the Union Election Commission (UEC) under the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government, has been sent to Naypyitaw Prison along with two other commission members, U Myint Naing and U Than Htay, a lawyer close to them told The Irrawaddy.

The junta-appointed election body announced on November 15 that it has filed charges against the trio for alleged irregularities during the 2020 general elections, which resulted in a resounding NLD victory.

It remains unclear what charges the regime has brought against the three men, who have been in military custody since the junta’s February 1 coup.

The military regime’s election commission said that it has filed charges against 16 individuals, but did not provide further details. Only eight of the 16 have been named. They include ousted President U Win Myint, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Government Office Minister U Min Thu, UEC chairman U Hla Thein and UEC members U Myint Naing and U Than Htay, Mandalay Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung and Naypyitaw Mayor Dr. Myo Aung.

However, the junta has already filed two fresh charges against Dr. Zaw Myint Maung over alleged fraud in the 2020 voting.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, who is battling leukemia, faces up to three years in prison or a fine or both if convicted under the broadly-defined Section 130(a) of the Penal Code, which criminalizes contravening certain provisions in the Constitution, and any law enacted by Parliament, by willfully doing any act which it forbids, or by willfully omitting to do any act which it requires to be done.

Another charge under Article 171(f) carries up to two years in jail for abusing influence or impersonation during an election.

One lawyer suggested that all 16 individuals may face the same charge as the regime has collectively mentioned them in its announcement.

The regime detained the leaders of the NLD government, as well as ministers and election commission members, after it used alleged electoral fraud as an excuse to seize power from the civilian government in February. Since then, various charges have been filed against those detained, while the 2020 election results have been annulled.

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