RANGOON — An election tribunal on Monday heard statements in an appeal by a Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmaker who is likely to lose his seat to a National League for Democracy (NLD) parliamentary hopeful in an election reversal.
In December, Khine Nyi Nyi Kyaw, who ran as an NLD candidate in the November 2015 general election, objected to Shan State’s Yatsauk Constituency No. 1 (Lawksawk Township) being called for the USDP’s Aung Kyaw Nyunt, who in the election was said to have bested his opponent by a difference of 1,085 votes.
According to Khine Nyi Nyi Kyaw, who filed a complaint with the Union Election Commission (UEC), these particular ballot results should be invalidated because votes from ineligible voters were included in the final tally.
“Military personnel who were attending a training course at Ba Htoo military camp [in Yat Sauk Township] were included on the voter lists, even though they were ineligible to vote because they were here for only two months,” Khine Nyi Nyi Kyaw said.
Election law states that a temporary resident is someone who has lived in a different constituency for at least six months and does not intend to return to his or her home constituency. To cast a ballot in the new constituency, this person must also register with local election officials.
Khine Nyi Nyi Kyaw said that the final voter lists were received too late to object earlier to the inclusion of military personnel, who should have cast advance ballots in their home constituencies, or in the constituency in which their battalion is based, prior to training.
“The election tribunal decided to cancel these votes [in December] at the polling stations where [military personnel] had voted,” he said, adding that this saw the USDP lawmaker trail him by a margin of 3,506 votes.
Khine Nyi Nyi Kyaw said that during the hearing on Monday, the attorney general argued that Aung Kyaw Nyunt’s appeal to the tribunal’s decision should be dismissed.
Shan State was one of the few electoral bright spots for the USDP in an election that otherwise saw the NLD win by sweeping majorities. The former ruling party won the largest number of seats in Shan State, with the NLD taking third place.
If the election tribunal stands by its decision, this will be yet another seat lost by the USDP since the end of the election.
In late November, the USDP lost an Upper House seat representing Shan State’s Kutkai, Muse and Namkham townships to the ethnic Ta’ang National Party (TNP) after an election sub-commission found that the ballots from six polling stations in Namkham Township had not been counted in the tabulations that led to the erroneous announcement.
The election tribunal’s final decision will be announced on July 12.