Election Tribunal Dismisses Ex-Minister’s Fraud Allegations

By San Yamin Aung 19 October 2016

RANGOON — A Union Election Commission (UEC) dispute tribunal has dismissed the objection filed by former minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development U Ohn Myint against the electoral victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo.

Former military general U Ohn Myint ran as a Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidate in the November 2015 general election for a Lower House seat in Rangoon’s Kyauktan Township. He was defeated by Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo by more than 10,500 votes.

In December, he filed a complaint with the UEC against Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo, alleging electoral fraud and accusing her of blocking him from campaigning. He asked the tribunal to declare him the rightful lawmaker of Kyauktan, claiming that he had obtained the majority of votes.

In an announcement published on Wednesday, the election commission said that the tribunal—which is made up of senior UEC members—had decided to dismiss the objection, and ordered the petitioner U Ohn Myint to pay 200,000 kyats (US$157) compensation to his opponent, Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo.

U Ohn Myint will be allowed to appeal the tribunal’s decision if he chooses.

Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the commission had cleared the objection as there was no reliable evidence for the accusation.

“He accused me of blocking his way during the campaign. But I was acting in accordance with the commission’s approval, for which we seek permission in advance. So the commission decided that his accusation is not valid,” she said.

The Irrawaddy previously reported that more than 40 tribunal cases have been filed with the UEC against winning candidates in November’s election: 26 by USDP, and eight by the NLD. At the Union level, the cases involved 14 Lower House seats and seven Upper House seats; 25 regional parliamentary seats have also been disputed. Objections range from allegations of intimidation to misconduct at polling stations to defamation and misuse of religion.

Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo told The Irrawaddy that Myo Chit, U Ohn Myint’s election agent, also sued both her and polling booth officials for electoral fraud. She was charged under Article 341 of Burma’s Penal Code, which states that the “wrongful restraining” of any person shall be punished with one month in prison or with a fine. The case is still ongoing at the Kyauktan Township Court.

U Ohn Myint has previously made headlines after he was caught on video threatening to slap a group of villagers for insubordination. The incident occurred during a visit to Thityarkaut village in Magwe Division in 2014, while he was serving as a Union minister. He described himself as “the one who slapped people’s faces around the country” and added that he was “brave enough to slap anyone in the face.”

On Wednesday, the UEC also released the designated schedule for by-elections which will be held on April 1 to fill vacant parliamentary seats. It said that the names of candidates will need to be submitted from Nov. 28 until Dec. 7 and that the candidate lists will be announced on Jan. 2. The election campaign period is scheduled from Jan. 30 until March 30.