Burma’s Election Commission Turns Down Karen Party’s Request To Lift Decree on 147 Polling Areas In Karen State

The Plone-Sawow Democratic Party (PSDP), a Karen State based political party said that their request to lift a voting decree in 147 polling areas of Karen State for the 2015 national election had been refused by Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC). The 147 areas were deemed by the UEC to be ‘unsafe’ as they were in areas affected by armed conflict. Political parties now claim the decrees should be lifted as ceasefires are place and peace talks are being held.

As many as 147 polling areas out of a total of 304 distributed in all seven townships in Karen State are affected by the voting decree imposed by UEC. In an effort to remove the ban, the PSDP party raised the issue and made its request at a meeting held on October 21 in Rangoon between the UEC representatives led by U Tin Aye and all political parties in Burma.

Mahn Aung Pyi Soe, vice chairperson of PSDP party told Karen News that UEC said that they cannot make it happen at this time.

Speaking to Karen News, Mahn Aung Pyi Soe said.

“We have suffered as there are many [polling] areas banned by government [UEC] since 2010. When our party asked whether UEC would lift the ban for the 2015 election, they said that there is something still need to be done with those places and they could not run the election unless conditions were secure.”

During the 2010 election, the government claimed that due to security reasons, polls could not be held in the banned 147 polling areas in Karen State. The banned polling areas included 11 areas in Hpa-an township, 25 areas in Papun township, 11 areas Kawkareik township, 46 areas in Kyainseikyi township, 1 area in Myawaddy, 36 areas in Thandaung township and 17 areas in Hlaingbwe township according to the party sources.

Nan Khin Htwe Myint, central executive committee member of the Karen state based National League for Democracy (NLD) spoke to Karen News about the the polling areas in Karen State.

“No matter whatever excuses they [UEC] gave, the banned polling areas should be lifted by now because of the peace building process. We see that this is not acceptable for the civilians. The election commission is not talking straight regarding this issue.”

The previous military government had imposed decree in polling areas in many constituencies in ethnic states and regions prior to the 2010 national election citing security reasons. In Karen State, it is not only the Karen parties that want the decree lifted – political parties want the government authorities to lift the decree imposed on polling areas for the 2015 national election.

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