Residents of Seik Phoo village-tract, located in northern Shan State, are frustrated polling has been stopped in their area.
“I don’t understand why they canceled the election in our region,” San Hla Maung, the village headman for Seik Phoo village, Nawngkio Township, told SHAN. “There’s no conflict in our area. There isn’t a problem with government staff. And there aren’t any COVID-19 cases. Our area is very peaceful.”
Stopping the election in the village-tract in Nawngkio Township will disenfranchise residents, he said, eventually pushing some to seek political change through other means, such as taking up arms.
There are seven villages in the village-tract, located about 15-miles from the town of Nawngkio. Because there’s a natural hot spring, before the pandemic started the area was popular with visitors.
UEC announced on October 16 that the race in Seik Phoo village-tract poll would be canceled.
Aung Kyaw Moe, the National League for Democracy candidate for Nawngkio Township, told SHAN that the information that UEC received about the village-tract is completely wrong. “People have the right to elect their representative. I think authorities are bullying residents.”
Locals want UEC to review their decision to cancel the race in Seik Phoo.
Soe Nyunt Lwin, spokesperson and minister of finance and planning for Shan State, told media outlets on October 19 that the decision to cancel the poll had nothing to do with the state government. During the 2015 race, polling didn’t happen in some areas of Shan State, including Hsipaw, Kehsi and Monghsu townships, he said. During the by-election it was reinstated, and the same thing could happen during the next by-election, Soe Nyunt Lwin said.
The election is cancelled in Mongla, Panghsang, Ner Hpan, Mong Mau, Pangwai, and Mong Kung townships, all located in Shan State. And in 133 village-tracts in Kyaukme, Nawngkio, Namhsan, Mantong, Mong Hkarg, Mong Yang, Mong Hpyag, Mong Yawng, Kutkai, Muse, Makmang, Mongton, Tang Yang, Lashio, Kung Lon, Kong Tzarng and Ho Pang townships.