Due to polling cancellations in two townships, over 100,000 central Shan State citizens will not be able to cast votes on November 8, local election officials confirmed on Friday.
Officials from Township Election Commissions in Mong Hsu and Kesi corroborated to SHAN the registration of 50,365 and 51,362 eligible voters in the two townships, respectively.
The Union Election Commission announced on October 27 that voting had been cancelled in the whole of the two townships, both located in Loilem District. The annulment was allegedly due to conditions created by active conflict between the Burma Army and the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), affecting 22 villages and causing the displacement of 6,000 civilians in the area.
Nang Ying, 30, delivered voter education courses in her native Mong Hsu. On behalf of locals in the area, she expressed frustration with the UEC’s decision.
“They know all about how to vote,” she said of the villagers who attended her trainings. “They are unsatisfied because they expected to be able to vote and now they are not able to. They lost that right.”
It was reported that the UEC’s decision came just over a week after the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) requested the cancellation on October 19, due to fighting.
The area is perceived as being more supportive of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), who opposed the closure of polls and requested a formal evaluation of whether this action was necessary.
Nang Ying said that locals wanted both an end to recent military offensives and a chance to participate in the country’s election.
“Firstly, we want the fighting to end,” Nang Ying said. “And we want to be able to vote like other townships.”
In total, voting has now been cancelled in areas within 17 townships in Shan State, including 42 village tracts in Hopang Township, in the Wa Self-Administered Division, and eight village tracts in Tang Yan Township in northern Shan State.
A local source who collected demographic data for Burma’s 2014 census estimated on Friday that the move in Tang Yan would affect 10,000 voters. At the time of reporting, SHAN was not able to confirm the number of voters left out in Hopang.
By SIMMA FRANCIS / Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)
Reporting by SAI YIPHONG / Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)