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Political parties contesting seats in the self-administered area of Kachin State Special Region-1 have filed complaints against the ruling pro-government militia, accusing the armed group of barring candidates from campaigning.
The militia, formerly the New Democratic Army– Kachin (NDA-K), is led by incumbent Upper House MP Zakhon Tein Ring. The group has enjoyed autonomous control of the region since a truce with the government was brokered in 1989, after the NDA-K broke away from the Communist Party of Burma. The NDA-K reformed as a Border Guard Force as part of their deal with Naypyidaw.
Zakhon Tein Ring contested the 2010 election as an independent in the Upper House seat, which encompasses Chipwi and Tsawlaw townships. He has confirmed he will be seeking re-election in the upcoming 8 November election.
Eleven Myanmar reported that Zakhon Tein Ring’s son, Zakhon Ying Hsawn of the Unity and Democracy Party of Kachin State, will be contesting the regional seat of Chipwi.
The National League for Democracy’s (NLD)’s Chipwi regional parliament candidate Khaw Bom said the militia had barred election opponents from entering Chipwi and Tsawlaw townships after Zakhon Tein Ring issued a statement insisting that the area was still in the process of ‘peace-building’ and therefore not ready for a transfer of power.
“We were handed a letter signed by Zakhon Tein Ring himself, insisting that the area is still in the process of peace-building and not ready for a power transfer and thus they are banning any party, including the NLD, from campaigning in the area,” said Khaw Bum.
Candidates from ethnic parties Lisu National Development Party (LNDP) and Lhaoyo National Unity and Development Party (LNUDP) were also barred from campaigning in the area.
LNUDP candidate for the Lower House seat of Chipwi, Dao Tai, told DVB, “Zakhon Tein Ring implied that only he can work with the Union Solidarity and Development Party, but that he is not ready to join hands with other parties as the ruling party [USDP] had vowed to build peace in the region but no other party had made that promise.
“He issued a letter claiming his area is not ready to accept any other party,” Dao Tai said.
Khaw Bom said the NLD and LNUDP have both filed complaints Kachin State’s election commission, seeking action against Zakhon Tein Ring.
“We have filed a complaint to the regional election commission, along with the letter issued by Zakhon Tein Ring, which we assert is in breach of Chapter 13 of the Election Law, Article 57,” said Khaw Bom.
The formal complaint was submitted on 24 September.
The election commission had summoned Zakhon Tein Ring to a meeting with officials on 29 September, according to Khaw Bom.