SSPP Urges Govt to Allow By-Elections to Proceed as Planned

By Lawi Weng 23 March 2017

The Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) has asked the National League for Democracy (NLD) government to let by-elections proceed as planned, amid discussions of postponing voting in almost 40 villages in northern Shan State due to security concerns.

Col Sai Su, an SSPP spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy that the Shan State Army-North—the armed wing of the SSPP—would not interfere with the elections, leaving any concerned candidates and parties free to contest the election in area under its control.

“Our Shan people did not get to vote in the elections in 2010 or 2015,” he said.

“We want to ask the government, the Election Commission, and other authorities to allow our ethnic people the right to vote. We ask that they listen to the voice of our people, and not to others who hope to block our rights under false pretenses,” he said.

Some NLD members who planned to run in the by-election in Mong Hsu Township said security in the SSPP-controlled area was insufficient.

The NLD-led government will discuss the issue on Thursday.

“We will not interfere.  We will not threaten other parties or tell people who to vote for. We have told our members not to interrupt. If someone does, we will take action,” said Col Sai Su.

Candidates from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the NLD will run in northern Shan State, where there are eight open seats in the two chambers of Parliament.

The SSPP issued a statement last month stating that they would not interfere with the election in any way.

But, Sai Su said his group questions why the NLD is listening to its sources on the ground as opposed to the SSPP statement.