Burma’s Special Intelligence Department of the police, also known as Special Branch, are looking for background information into the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) election candidates, including party leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the Special Branch made the request to the party, but it refused to comply. He insisted the police have no authority to make such a demand.
“We understand that the Special Branch is just doing job, but they have no authority to demand such information from us. Their job is to find out information on their own. If we hand it over, we’d be making things too easy for them,” he said.
“We do not accept the general assumption that all government departments have [the authority to] access everyone’s personal information.”
Ko Ko, the chairman of the Election Commission in Rangoon Division, said the Special Branch is not only approaching the NLD for information, but other oppositional parties and the Election Commission itself. He said the Special Branch might be trying to access information early due to the high number of candidates running in the upcoming election.
“They also reached out to us for personal backgrounds – we didn’t give it to them. Technically, the Election Commission is tasked with verifying the backgrounds of election candidates. The Ministry of Home Affairs is to help us with information that we cannot attain,” he said.
“According to procedures, the State or Division Election Commission will provide details of election candidates to the Union Election Commission. The Union Election Commission will relay it to the Ministry of Home Affairs, so the Special Branch will get a hold of the information in the end, anyway. They are just doing their jobs by asking for details.”
The UEC is scheduled to begin verifying election candidates on 18 August, to be completed by 27 August.
Read more DVB coverage on the upcoming general election here.