Parties attack voter lists

Political parties and their candidates competing in the 1 April by-elections are crying foul amid reports of the existence of fraudulent voter lists.

“In Dagon Seikkan township [near Rangoon], there are [irregularities] with the voter lists, including wrong names and wrong ID card numbers while some names were omitted,” said Khin Maung Swe, National Democratic Force party head. The NDF is fielding 13 candidates in the by-elections.

Similar reports concerning inconsistent voter lists surfaced last week in the country’s Irrawaddy division in southern Burma.

“The worse thing is we learnt that names of residents from South Okkalapa township have been appearing on the lists here,” said Khin Maung Swe

National League for Democracy (NLD)’s central executive committee member Han Thar Myint said the party discovered irregularities with voter lists in all 48 constituencies with vacant parliamentary seats.

“There are inconsistences with the voter lists in all 48 constituencies – too many to explain in details – including people who don’t really exist appearing on the lists,” said Han Thar Myint. “In some cases, we saw more than 1000 names being listed under one ID card number.”

The party official said the NLD would report these instances to concerned ward and village election commissions within seven days and to the Union Election Commission (UEC) before the polls open.

National Unity Party (NUP), who is fielding 22 candidates in the by-elections, said they have yet to receive reports of such incidents, but are advising their members on how to deal with such an event.

“We have told our members to check the voter lists thoroughly and take a copy if necessary, and to immediately report [problems] to concerned election commission branches if they found any irregularities,” said the NUP’s Central Executive Committee member Han Shwe.

The NUP, which was formerly associated with the Burmese Socialists Party Programme, won 64 seats in the 2010 elections.

Khin Maung Swe said it is unlikely that upcoming by-elections would be valid if these issues were not resolved.

“It is unlikely the by-elections would be free and fair if authorities and organisations responsible for the voter list are still using the old lists [from the 2010 elections] so we need to report this in time,” said Khin Maung Swe. “But it depends on how much effort the UEC and authorities at the [local level], who are responsible for handling these issues, will [give].”

There are 17 parties and six independent candidates competing in 48 constituencies in the by-elections. There is widespread speculation that if the April elections are deemed free and fair, several Western countries may begin easing their sanctions that have been placed on Burma for more than two decades.

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