Wed Dec 13 2017, 8:37:07 +03

Myanmar Election Commission bow to pressure, reinstates 11 Muslim candidates

Author : , Published :


(Yangon-AlummahWorld-Dhu-AlHijjah 11, 1436, September 25, 2015)  Myanmar`s Union Election Commission reportedly bow down to Western pressure, reinstates 11 Muslim candidate so that they can run for the upcoming general election on November 08. Eleven Muslim politicians have successfully challenged their controversial disqualification from contesting the November elections following a surprise reversal by Election Commission, Myanmar Times reported.

Their reinstatement after appeal followed concerted pressure from the United States and eight other governments, which had urged Myanmar to hold “a credible, transparent and inclusive election” while expressing concerns “about the prospect of religion being used as a tool of division and conflict during the campaign season”.

Last week, embassies of nine Western countries have expressed concern at the prospect of religion being used to create “division and conflict” ahead of Myanmar’s upcoming election.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the embassies of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States reaffirmed their support for “a credible, transparent and inclusive election”, calling the November 8 ballot a “critical marker in Myanmar’s transition to democracy”.

Some of the successful candidates said they had learned on September 21 that their appeals had been approved by a UEC tribunal on September 19. A Union Election Commission statement on its website named 11 reinstated candidates, all of them Muslims.

In Myanmar, after masacre of Rohingya Muslim minority early this year, country is divided in different religious and ethnic groups.

Religious affiliation is likely to determine the outcome of voting in many constituencies, especially in ethnic minority areas, in what some analysts are describing as the most identity-driven elections since independence in 1948.

The rise of Buddhist nationalism, fuelled by a radical minority of monks, is widely seen as having persuaded Myanmar’s two largest parties - the USDP and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy – to exclude all Muslim candidates from their ranks.

According to some local media reports, Muslims make up around 4 percent of Myanmar’s population according to out-of-date official figures, although the community says the real number could be double that. As two largest political forces the Union Solidarity and Development Party and National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi are trying to refrain to touch the issue of rights of Muslim minority, it is unlikely that any Muslim candidate can run the election without fearing safety of their voters or supporters.

Myanmar government, by reinstating some of the Muslim candidates appearantly trying to show that the democracic precess of election in the country is fair, analysts said.

But it is not certain whether Muslim candidates and voters would be able to express their free will through election campaign and ballot in an environment of threats from Budhist monks and widespread religious discrimination in the country.