SITTWE, Rakhine State — The Sittwe District Election Commission in Rakhine State has dismissed objections by the Arakan National Party (ANP) to a candidate from a rival party for the by-elections set for November.
The ANP objected to candidate U Thein Maung, who has switched to the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), on the grounds that it has not yet accepted his resignation.
A total of four candidates — one each from the ANP, ALD, National League for Democracy and an independent — will contest a seat in the Rakhine State legislature representing Rathedaung Township Constituency 2.
The district election commission launched an investigation following the ANP’s complaint and ruled last week that U Thein Maung’s candidacy with the ALD did not violate any election laws or bylaws, said district election officer U Khin Maung Oo.
“U Thein Maung submitted his resignation to the ANP twice, but the party has not accepted it yet. The election law does not include provisions regarding this. So we told them to solve the problem between themselves. The candidate does not violate election laws,” U Khin Maung Oo told The Irrawaddy.
The ANP’s U Hla Myint, who lodged the complaint against U Thein Maung, said his argument was not based on whether or not U Thein Maung was qualified as a candidate but on the fact that an individual cannot be a member of two political parties at the same time, according to the law of political party registration.
“I raised the objection not because he does not meet candidate criteria, but because he can’t be a member of two political parties at the same time,” he told The Irrawaddy.
U Hla Myint said he would appeal the district decision to the Rakhine State Election Commission.
U Thein Maung, a retired school principal, was chairman of the ALD’s Rathedaung Township chapter before it merger in 2013 with the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) to form the ANP. After the merger, he served as township chapter vice chairman for the ANP.
The merger of the ALD and RNDP lasted less than four years, however. In January 2017, former leaders of the ALD announced that they were splitting from the ANP and re-registering the ALD with the Union Election Commission for the 2020 elections, citing problems with the merger.
The Sittwe District Election Commission is set to release the list of qualified candidates on Aug. 6.
According to the commission, there are 50,000 voters in Rathedaung Constituency 2. The seat was left vacant after the death of ANP lawmaker U Poe Min, who won in the 2015 general elections.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.