Ministry to review March 31 interviews with senior NLD members

Information Minister U Pe Myint has promised to review whether state media erred by running positive assessments of the National League for Democracy’s first year in office on the eve of recent by-elections.

The separate interviews, with senior NLD officials U Win Htein and U Tin Oo, came a day ahead of the April 1 by-elections, for which campaigning was legally required to end on March 30.

Of the 19 by-elections, the NLD won nine of the 18 that it contested.

Pe Myint promised the review after Frontier raised the issue at a news conference in Nay Pyi Taw on April 26.

“The programs were badly timed,” Pe Myint conceded. But he added that their publication and broadcast by state media on March 31, a day before the vote, was a “coincidence” and not aimed at influencing the outcome of the by-elections.

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He also said it was the Ministry of Information’s “duty” to broadcast and publish reviews of government activities, including those of each ministry.

“[The interviews] were just about reviewing the first year’s performance and for this we had to interview prominent people. However, we will have to conduct a review if there has been criticism,” he said, without making clear what the review would entail.

New National Democratic Party chairman U Thein Nyunt said there was no excuse for publishing and broadcasting the interviewsapparently in breach of election rules.

“It is illegal under election laws to conduct any sort of campaigning the day before an election,” he said.

Without being specific, he referred to the hypocrisy of those who repeatedly stress the importance of upholding the rule of law.

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