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Election Commission rejects USDP accusation of bias

USDP's information committee hold a press conference in Yangon on 23 November 2017. (PHOTO: Hein Ko/ DVB)

The Union Election Commission (UEC) has rejected an accusation by Burma’s main opposition party that it is biased.

In a statement released earlier today, the Commission also warned parties against making allegations without evidence.

Speaking to DVB on Friday, UEC Chairman Hla Thein said that the Commission dealt with each case impartially, and that it conducted all its affairs in accordance with the Election Law and other rules and regulations.

“If those political parties continue to make unfounded accusations, we will have no choice but to deal with them,” he said.

The UEC comments come a day after a Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) spokesperson had called a press conference at which he lambasted the UEC for being biased against the party. Spokesman Pike Htwe claimed the USDP had the backing of at least 15 other political parties, including the Democratic Party (Myanmar), National Democratic Force (NDF), National Unity Party (NUP) and New National Democracy Party (NNDP).

Speaking to DVB after the UEC released its statement today, USDP’s Nandar Hla Myint retorted that the Commission “could not be trusted” to be impartial.

He explained that his party and its candidates have filed complaints with the UEC no less than 25 times following the 2015 election, but that the Commission had never ruled in their favour.

Nandar Hla Myint pointed to one such case in Shan State, where a USDP candidate was this week disqualified by the UEC after apparently winning the majority vote in a by-election earlier this year.

“Our candidate received 7,026 votes to the NLD’s 4,518,” he said. “But the UEC disqualified him for what they called ‘unpermitted electioneering’ because he was distributing pamphlets.”

He add: “The pamphlet issue alone is not enough to remove our MP. It is unfair. The Commission should be independent.”

Also at yesterday’s press conference, USDP spokesman Pike Htwe told reporters that the UEC would not meet with political party representatives to discuss such issues.

“We sent a letter requesting a meeting but the Commission has not replied,” explained Nandar Hla Myint.

Originally established in 2011 by the then ruling USDP, the UEC was completely overhauled after the 2015 election when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide victory at the polls.