Parliament Renews Martial Law in Kokang Territory

By The Irrawaddy 18 August 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s Union Parliament has approved a 90-day extension of martial law in the Kokang Special Region, in a move likely to rule out elections in the strife-torn area.

President’s Office Minister Hla Tun submitted the proposal to the parliament on Tuesday, following a written request from President Thein Sein the previous day.

“Politics, security, business, the judiciary and management in the area have still not [returned to] normalcy, so that requires an extension,” Hla Tun told the Union Parliament during the debate.

The government announced a state of emergency in the Kokang Special Region on Feb. 17, declaring martial law after a series of clashes between the Burma Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in and around the Kokang capital of Laukkai. A three-month extension to the edict was issued on May 14.

The third 90-day extension of martial law on Tuesday, less than three months from the Nov. 8 general election, was reached with the support of 473 lawmakers, while 27 MPs voted against the measure and 17 abstained.

“I think stability is more important in a region like Kokang than the election,” Hla Swe, a lawmaker from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

U Pwint, chair of the Shan State Union Election Commission office, said that although it was still yet to be determined whether elections will be held in the Kokang Special Region, the commission had compiled voter lists and election preparations were underway in the Kokang townships.