Mystery names swamp Myanmar electoral roll

Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters

On the eve of Myanmar’s election, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) urged voters to remain calm if they were denied their democratic rights.

“It is a great loss for people to be disenfranchised,” the party said in a statement, stressing the importance of remaining peaceful.

“Overwhelmed by a sense of grievance, they may talk and respond emotionally,” the statement said. “People should be aware that such emotional behaviour and responses may work in the favour of certain persons and organisations. People need to avoid such emotional behaviour and responses, especially near the polling stations.”

Countless Muslims lost their right to vote earlier this year and voting has been cancelled in hundreds of village tracts due to conflict, often reportedly started by government offensives into rebel-held areas.

Voter lists across the country have suddenly been filled with numerous mystery names.

An administrator in Yangon’s Thaketa Township said around 1,600 people in his constituency found themselves excluded, mostly those living in informal settlements.

Election monitors say the final voter lists for townships of Taungoo District, Bago Region, include an extra 82,536 voters bring the total electorate there to 788,649.

The NLD has called for the Union Election Commission (UEC) to explain the “phantom voters” that seem to have largely appeared in constituencies where government ministers are running.

Since the draft publication of voter lists earlier this year, the UEC has offered various explanations for the many errors, including software problems, voter apathy and an unconstructive attitude on the part of the opposition parties.

“Election commissions at different levels are obliged to make sure every citizen is enfranchised. And it is legitimate to take legal actions against the failure to fulfilling that responsibility,” the NLD said.

Meanwhile, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) supporters in Khin-U Township, Shwebo district, Sagaing Region, have been accused of spreading a malicious rumour about the NLD’s presidential candidate being a leading Muslim within the party.

The hoax about a Muslim presidential candidate, U Ko Ni, was allegedly spread from the Facebook account of ‘Myanma special breaking news’ on November 5.

It claimed to have “quoted” NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi saying: “The NLD’s presidential candidate is a civilian. He is U Ko Ni, our legal adviser. He can lead the NLD and is also a person on whom Muslim minorities can rely. He has been chosen after careful consideration.”

Khin Maung Zin, Khin-U NLD executive member, said: “We were told USDP supporters were distributing the fake announcement about the NLD’s presidential candidate. We have already gathered evidence about the USDP chair planning to photocopy the fake announcement. I will inform the township election sub-commission and the police.”

The USDP was unavailable to comment on the allegations.

There are 113,383 voters and 103 polling stations in the township.


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