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Election body delays lawsuit hearings

Hearings for nearly 30 lawsuits filed by aggrieved candidates in last November’s elections have been delayed due to the conflicting schedules of individuals involved.

Burma’s supreme election authority, the Union Election Commission (UEC), was due to hear the cases on 10 and 11 February but now says that parliamentary commitments mean they’ll be forced to postpone them.

“All hearings have been suspended,” said lawyer Myint Thwin, who is representing several complainants. “The UEC said they will contact us again around the 16th or 17th this month and also told us to make contact with them.”

So far 29 cases have been filed at the UEC alleging foul play in the controversial 7 November elections last year. All but two of these were lodged by members of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won around 80 percent of seats.

Myint Thwin said however that there have been rumours the USDP was planning to withdraw some of their complaints.

The USDP, which was led by President Thein Sein and received the backing of the Burmese military, had been accused on a number of occasions of fraud and intimidation during the campaigning stage, as well as infractions on voting day itself.

Many of the allegations were directed at the party’s collecting of advance votes, although there were also numbers of reports claiming that USDP campaigners had coerced people into joining up. Villagers in Shan state also alleged that the names of dead people had appeared on voting lists.

Although the UEC, which was handpicked by the ruling junta, had been expected to weigh heavily in favour of the USDP, it has already dropped one case filed by a party member citing lack of evidence.

There are also thought to be around 100 complaints filed at local police stations around Burma that have not been picked up by the UEC.

A candidate for the opposition Democratic Party Myanmar told DVB shortly before the elections that three complaints it had lodged against the USDP’s campaigning tactics had been ignored by the UEC.


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