The military junta’s designation of parts of 32 townships in ethnic states as “constituencies where free and fair elections cannot be held”....
The military junta’s designation of parts of 32 townships in ethnic states as “constituencies where free and fair elections cannot be held” is part of its efforts to divide ethnic ceasefire groups especially the United Wa State Army (UWSA), according to a senior officer of Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ based on the Thai-Burma border.
“For instance, an obvious point is in Shan State East’s Monghsat Township. The junta banned polls in the UWSA’s 518th brigade controlled village tracts Hsatung and Htalang. But Mongyawn itself, where the 518th is based, was not in the list,” the officer who asked not to be named said.
Besides, the population in the said two village tracts that were excluded from the 7 November polls is not big, according to him.
According to the Lahu National Development Organization (LNDO), the Wa had relocated 126,000 people to the Thai-Burma border from 1990-2001. The Wa official figure for this was 80,000.
“It seems to me that the junta plans to make the Wa on the Sino-Burma border become suspicious of those on the Thai-Burma border,” he said.
On 16 September, Burma’s state media announced that of 330 townships across the country, parts of 32 townships (around 500 village tracts) in Shan, Kachin, Mon, Karenni and Karen states will be unable to hold elections because conditions in those areas are not conducive for a “free and fair” process.
Among those banned townships, 12 (around 252 village tracts) are in Shan State, controlled by the UWSA and its ally the Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) that have turned down Naypyitaw’s demand to disarm themselves.
The banned village tracts on the Thai-Burma border are Pangkamkaw in Mongton Township and Hsatung and Htalang in Monghsat.
“The curious thing is many village tracts under the UWSA’s 171st Military Region on the Thai-Burma border are not left out,” said the Shan officer. “For instance, Mongyawn and Wanhong in Monghsat and Hoyawd, Hwe Aw and Mongjawd in Mongton and there must be at least 50,000 eligible voters there.”
A border watcher based on the Sino-Burma border said 12 townships have around 1,870 villages (Wa - 1,420 and Mongla - 450) with at least 100,000 eligible voters. Burma’s population is 59.12 million and 70 per cent of the population is residing in rural areas.
According to him, the rejection is neither the first nor unusual because the 1990 elections did not also include four townships of the Wa and two townships of Kokang. There were 52 townships in Shan State and only 46 townships had the elections.
“There was no report about the exclusion then, because the Wa had just concluded a ceasefire agreement with Rangoon in 1989, and the two sides were still on a honeymoon,” he said. “Now, it is becoming hot news because of the growing tension between them.”
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