By Nang Seng Phoo/SHAN
Four parties contesting the national election on Sunday want the Union Election Commission (UEC) to cancel polling in Mong Hsat Township, located in eastern Shan State, because the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which controls the area, is preventing them from campaigning.
The National League for Democracy, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Shan Nationalities Democratic Party and Lahu National Development Party (LNDP) said they aren’t allowed to pass through UWSA security checkpoints located in each of the four village-tracts in the township.
“Even though we have a recommendation letter from the Election Commission (EC), they (UWSA) told us they don’t understand Burmese language,” Aik Sai (aka Sai Wunna), SNLD’s electoral candidate for Mong Hsat Township, told SHAN.
Aye Thida Myint, the LNDP’s electoral candidate for Mong Hsat Township, said the UWSA wants a recommendation letter written in Chinese from their leader.
The EC offered her party assistance campaigning if they have to get a “health recommendation letter” for travel, she said. But there isn’t enough time to apply for them before polls open. “We only have two days..I think it’s impossible to launch an election campaign in the Wa area.”
“We can’t say it’s a free and fair election because no-one can campaign…that’s why we asked the UEC to cancel the election in the township.”
Sai Too, chair of Mong Hsat District EC, told SHAN he couldn’t comment but did say a meeting would be convened to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, advance voting in the township has already started.
Mong Hsat Township has a population of 22,743, who live in 21 villages. There are 12 polling stations during the election.
Other parties contesting the election in the township are Wa National Party, Union Betterment Party and Union Solidarity and Development Party.
The Burma Army, Lahu People’s Militia Force and Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army also maintain troops in the area.