Wed 22 Dec 2010
Filed under: Elections,Inside Burma,News
Three Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidates have filed lawsuits accusing the winning candidates of vote rigging in the election on Nov. 7.
Sai Kham Hlaing, a USDP candidate who competed in Kunhing Township for a State and Region Parliament (1) seat, filed a lawsuit against Sai Moon, the winning candidate representing the Shan Nationalities Development Party (SNDP).
Sai Saung See, a spokesperson and deputy SNDP chairman, said the SNDP didn’t violate any rules in the election process and the accusation is groundless.
“He [Kham Hlaing] must show evidence. The difference in the vote count between the SNDP and the USDP was nearly 2,000 in that seat. The case is now being examined in Naypyidaw,” Sai Saung See said.
Kham Hlaing alleged that 50 SNDP members organized within 500 yards of a polling station and that the SNDP also worked with members of the local people’s militia, which was transformed from Shan State Army Brigade-7, to put pressure on local residents to vote for the SNDP, according to a letter the Election Commission (EC) sent to Sai Moon.
An official poll watcher in Kunhing Township, however, said that, “In fact, the SNDP lost in the area controlled by SSA Brigade-7.”
Kham Hlaing was set to become a state minister had the won in the election, according to USDP sources.
SNDP candidate Sai Tun Kyi, who ran for State and Region Parliament (2) in Kunhing Township, also filed a lawsuit against Sai Nu, the winning USDP candidate, accusing him of vote rigging. The difference between the two candidates was only seven votes.
“We have clear evidence in the case,” Saung See said.
Sai Myo Aung, a SNDP candidate who was elected to the State and Region Parliament in Momauk Township in Kachin State, also faces a lawsuit filed by the losing USDP candidate, said Saung See.
In the pre-election period, the USDP and the authorities were collecting advance pro-USDP votes through intimidation in many rural areas across Shan State, according to sources. The SNDP, the largest ethnic party contesting in the election in Shan State, complained to the EC about vote rigging in advanced voting but no action has been taken in response to the allegations.
The SNDP won 57 of the 156 constituencies it contested in the Nov. 7 election. Most of the constituencies were in Shan and Kachin states.
The Democratic Party (Myanmar)’s chairman Thu Wai told The Irrawaddy that party candidate Tin Tin Mar, who won the State and Region Parliament seat in Chanayetharzan Township in Mandalay Division, also has been named in a lawsuit filed by the USDP. The EC is expected to make a decision in the case on Dec. 29, he said.
Thu Wai said most people have been talking about widespread USDP vote rigging in the election, “so they are trying to refute that” by filing the lawsuits.
The USDP has alleged that Tin Tin Mar paid local residents 1,500 kyat (US $1.5) per vote and campaigned in the area of polling stations on election day.
A fee of 1 million kyat (US $1,136) is required to file an election fraud lawsuit with the authorities, and it carries a possible two-year jail term if the case is lost.
On Nov. 17, the EC told candidates who planned to challenge election results that they could be fined 300,000 kyat ($340) and sentenced to three years in prison if their accusations are deemed to be unfounded.
“Both plaintiff and defendant have to pay 100,000 kyat ($100) in the lawsuit. If one side cannot afford that amount, they forfeit the case. So we have to collect the money for that lawsuit,” Thu Wai said.