Shan party candidate wins lawsuit

Burma’s junta-appointed Election Commission has dismissed a complaint filed against a candidate of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) by a member of the victorious Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The decision will come as a surprise to critics of Burma’s judicial system who claim that the country’s opposition forces rarely triumph in such disputes. The USDP had alleged that Sai Moon, who will be representing the SNDP in the Shan state regional legislature, used armed groups to force voters to vote in favour of him.

The Election Commission, the supreme body for all election-related matters, said that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations and so dismissed the case. Sai Moon has received an invitation to report to Naypyidaw by 27 January along with the 1000-plus other elected candidates, days prior to the opening of the parliament on 31 January.

The SNDP came third in the 7 November polls with around 60 votes, while the USDP won 882. Ostensibly backed by the 388 seats appointed to the military, the USDP will dominate decision-making in the new parliament.

Nang Wah Nu, an SNDP candidate for the People’s Parliament in Kunhing township, Shan state, said there were two more lawsuits filed by the USDP against SNDP candidates.

The election victors have filed several other lawsuits against elected MPs from other parties, including the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the Democratic Party (Myanmar) and the National Democratic Force (NDF).

The NDF’s Myat Nyarna Soe, who is fighting a complaint filed by USDP candidate Myat Thu, said that the tribunal for the case had so far been fair. Myat Thu, who lost the Rangoon division seat, claims that his NDF rival committed slander against the government during the pre-election campaigning phase.

“I witnessed the [Election Commission] being fair in the case,” he said. “There was no strong evidence to support the USDP’s allegations. The commission has formed a tribunal to listen to these cases and I saw that the judges were not letting them pass without any strong evidence to support their allegations.”

Additional reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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