Residents of Mong Hsat Township, located in eastern Shan State, were told to vote for Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), backed by the Burma Army, in an area that is controlled by United Wa State Army (UWSA), an UWSA soldier requesting anonymity told SHAN.
Residents in Wan Hong, Sibok, Mong Yun and Tarku were provided instructions on how to vote, during which instructed to choose USDP, the soldier said.
“They told us not to cast ballots for the other parties,” the soldier said.
Meanwhile, several other major parties contesting Burma’s election this Sunday have been blocked from campaigning in the township by UWSA, purportedly to prevent transmissions of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 disease.
This Wednesday, November 4, the National League for Democracy (NLD), Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party and Lahu National Development Party (LNDP) called for the Union Election Commission (UEC) to cancel the election in the township.
During the 2015 race, the UWSA reportedly told people to vote for the NLD, and this year it’s the USDP.
Sai Tip, who is 40-years-old and from Mong Hsat Township, told SHAN that soldiers from other ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) can’t vote while UWSA troops are allowed to take part in polling. “Officials are urging their soldiers to cast their ballot for this or that political party—I don’t think it’s fair!”
“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,” said Aye Thida Myint, the LNDP’s electoral candidate for Mong Hsat Township.
In early September, Burma Army Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing received UWSA leaders in the army’s Triangle Military Region headquarters, located in Kengtung. The Burma Army provided the EAO with personal protective equipment.
UEC cancelled polling in Mong Kung Township, located in southern Shan state, after the Ta’ang National Party complained of interference during campaigning by the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army.
The other parties contesting the election in Mong Hsat Township are the Wa National Party and the Union Betterment Party.
In addition to the UWSA, the Burma Army, Lahu People’s Militia Force and RCSS/SSA also maintains troops in the township.