Myanmar Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Accept Ex-Generals' Parties Challenges to President, UEC Chair

By San Yamin Aung 6 January 2021

YANGON — Myanmar’s Supreme Court will hear applications of writs by two military-linked political parties which accuse the president and Union Election Commission (UEC) chairman of electoral misconduct in November’s general election in which they suffered heavy defeats.

Followed their humiliating defeats to the National League for Democracy (NLD) on Nov. 8, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and Democratic Party of National Politics (DNP) cried foul, claiming the election was “unfair” and “marred by mass fraud”, despite international and domestic election observers reporting no major irregularities.

The USDP only won 71 seats (down from 117 in 2015) or 6.4 percent out of 1,117 contested seats in the Union, state and regional legislatures. The DNP did not win any seats.

After the NLD won a supermajority with 920 seats (82.3 percent), the USDP central executive committee, a former military advocate general and chairman of the DNP U Soe Maung and his party’s spokesman filed the applications of writs. The applications named President U Win Myint, three other government figures, UEC chairman U Hla Thein and 14 other election officials as defendants to the highest court.

“The election is not over,” chairman of the DNP U Soe Maung, who served as a President’s Office minister in U Thein Sein’s administration, told a press conference in Yangon on Tuesday.

The ex-general added that their evidence is based on the findings of numerous voter-list irregularities by the military. The military conducted a review of the electoral process and reported numerous voter-list irregularities that could have led to vote rigging.

“It will become the most significant [writs] hearing in five decades. We hope the Supreme Court will decide freely, fairly and transparently,” he said.

The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday evening that the applicants will be heard through video conferencing on Jan. 29 to decide whether to proceed.

If the applications are accepted, the final hearing board will hear from both sides before delivering a verdict.

Legal observers have said the losing parties’ attempts will probably fail as the 2008 Constitution grants the UEC the final decision over the electoral process and no legal action can overrule the body’s functions.

Legal adviser U Khin Maung Myint said the application to issue writs were likely to be rejected by the Supreme Court as the UEC’s complaints procedure was still taking place and there appeared to be a lack of evidence of electoral fraud.

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