Complaints threaten NLD majority

Complaints against victorious National League for Democracy candidates threaten to erode the party’s huge majority in the upper and lower houses of the Union parliament.

The NLD won about 80 percent of the contested seats in the Union parliament, enough to give it control over the nomination of two of the three presidential candidates as well as the legislative program for the next parliament.

An avalanche of complaints, mainly from losing candidates from the Union Solidarity and Development Party but also from prominent independents, could undermine the NLD’s majority.

Election laws provide for complaints about alleged fraud or other breaches to be lodged at police stations within 15 days of election day and for letters of complaint to be sent to the Union Election Commission within 45 days of candidates’ lists being announced.

The size of the NLD’s majority hinges on the judgement of complaints tribunals appointed by the Union Election Commission. The UEC chairman, U Tin Aye, said last month the tribunals would be “just and balanced”.

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The defeated USDP candidates include its chairman, U Htay Oo, who was defeated by an NLD candidate in the contest for the Pyithu Hluttaw seat of Hinthada Township in Ayeyarwady Region.

“We will file protests not for the sake of victory or defeat, and not to find fault, but in order to be able to avoid such cases in future elections,” U Htay Oo has told journalists.

Complaints lodged by defeated USDP candidates are increasing, say NLD sources.

NLD candidate Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo said 18 complaints of election fraud had been filed against her by the Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, U Ohn Myint, her USDP opponent in Yangon Region’s Kyauktan Township.

Most of the complaints involve minor matters, such as providing water at polling stations and of NLD supporters shouting balloting instructions to voters, Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo said.

Not all the complaints have been lodged by USDP candidates. In Yangon’s Bahan Township, prominent independent candidate and anti-corruption campaigner, Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, has complained against her NLD opponent, U Tun Myint, for allegedly distributing defamatory flyers.

There is a possibility that some NLD and other candidates may be the target of complaints about exceeding campaign spending.

Vice President U Nyan Tun, who won a lower house seat for the USDP, doubted that the campaign spending limit issue would be a challenge for the NLD because it applies to individual candidates and not to parties.

“That means that if some candidates want to complain that their opponent exceeded the limit, the opponent only has to say that he or she was using funds from their party’s central campaign fund,” said U Nyan Tun, who defeated the National Unity Party’s Ko Thu Rain Shwe.

However, Ko Thu Rain Shwe said that he was not concerned about campaign spending issues but warned that if any candidates spoke in an insulting way about the military during the election campaign it could have consequences for the NLD.

Mratt Kyaw Thu

Mratt Kyaw Thu

Mratt is a Senior Reporter at Frontier. He began his career at Unity Weekly Journal in 2010 and focuses on political reporting. In 2017 he won the Agence France-Presse Kate Webb prize for his coverage of ethnic strife in Myanmar.
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