As the third week of election campaigning kicks off, an international monitoring group is already raising alarm over the credibility of the elections. In a statement, the U.S.-based Carter Center questioned the legitimacy of the candidate scrutiny process that scrubbed more than 100 election hopefuls from the final list. Though the Union Election Commission reinstated 11 Muslim nominees just before the Carter Center released its findings on September 25, 75 candidates continue to be barred from the polls, largely due to the alleged citizenship status of their parents. “Although the number of disqualified candidates is relatively small, restrictive requirements, selective enforcement, and a lack of procedural safeguards call into question the credibility of the process,” the report stated.
According to the constitution and election laws, political nominees are required to prove their and their parents’ citizenship. In Myanmar, where citizenship regulations have been redefined multiple times and identity documents are historically hard to obtain, such verification is notoriously difficult.
Most problematically, the Carter Center found that sub-commissions only enforced the citizenship provisions against ethnic and religious populations. Of the 61 disqualifications based on citizenship, a majority of candidates were Muslims or members of ethnic parties.
“Five of the six parties fielding mostly Muslim candidates lost more than half of their candidates,” the report stated. The USDP, on the other hand, saw all of its 1134 candidates approved, including Minister for the President’s Office U Thein Nyunt, who was allegedly by his NLD rival for the seat to have been born to Chinese citizens and therefore technically ineligible to run. Election commission officials conceded that they did not conduct a thorough background check on U Thein Nyunt, but said it is too late now to reject his candidacy.
Full Article: Carter Center frets over election credibility.