New MCDC Members Elected Amid Election Controversy

By Zarni Mann 26 September 2016

MANDALAY — Six new committee members were elected to the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) on Sunday amid calls that the election was not run fairly.

The six candidates—U Ye Mon, U Saw Han, U Zaw Myo Lwin, U Kyaw Zeya, U Kyaw Zaw Aung, and U Khaing Myint, respectively from Amarapura, Pyigyitagon, Chanmyathazi, Chanayethazan, Maha Aung Myay and Aungmyaythazan townships in Mandalay—were elected out of 34 candidates, after public MCDC elections took place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

About 58 percent to 78 percent of residents in the six townships voted during the election, according to a statement from the MCDC.

Although candidates and residents said the MCDC elections themselves were conducted fairly on Sunday, there was criticism that candidates had not followed the rules and regulations of the election commission during the campaign period.

“Some candidates abused the campaign rules and the election commission is neglecting to take action,” said Khin Maung Tun, a candidate who competed for the Maha Aung Myay Township seat.

Local observers also said that candidates campaigned on days when it was not permitted, including outside polling stations on election day.

“We have records and notes which we will submit to the commission,” said Nyi Kyaw, a local activist who observed the MCDC election. “We don’t have much hope that the commission will take action against these complaints but we want to show it is unfair. Let’s see how the election commission handles this.”

Some candidates were also accused of misusing the logo of the National League of Democracy (NLD) during the election campaign, confusing voters on candidates’ allegiances. Some independent candidates joined the NLD the night before registering to run in the election.

“In our township, people thought they were voting for NLD to join the MCDC,” said a local observer from Chanmyathazi Township. “Using the image of a party confused the voters in choosing the right person for the development of the city,” he added.

Candidates campaigning near the voting stations and instances of voters having multiple ballot papers or voting twice were reported to the election commission, according to observers.

The MCDC is formed of 13 committee members where the mayor, joint secretary and five other members are handpicked by the regional government. The six other members are chosen by public vote and the vice mayor is chosen from the six elected members.