Seven ethnic Khumi Chin civil society organizations (CSOs) released a statement this week expressing concern about whether voting in Burma’s general election will take place in Paletwa Township on November 8.
The October 14 statement said that clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army (AA) in southern Chin State could impact the chances of polling taking place in Paletwa.
“Political parties and electoral candidates have not been able to launch their election campaigns and voter education campaigns because AA troops remain in Paletwa Township,” Saw Mya, spokesperson of the Khumi Affairs Coordination Committee, told Khonumthung News. “The Burma Army has also restricted travel in the area. Therefore, we are worried that the election will not take place in Paletwa Township.”
According to the Chin State Election Commission, there are 62,845 eligible voters in Paletwa’s five constituencies, who Saw Mya estimates make up 20 percent of Chin State’s population.
A total of 24 electoral candidates from six political parties will run for election in the township.
The Khumi Affairs Coordination Committee spokesperson said that if the election cannot be held in Paletwa, “people will feel we are marginalized in this country.”
“If there is no election in Paletwa, we cannot make our voices heard. The representation of our voices will disappear,” Saw Mya said. “There will be no representatives for us in Parliament, so people’s trust in government will decrease.”
Burma’s last general election was held in 2015. At this time, the Union Election Commission (UEC) canceled voting in seven townships and hundreds of village tracts in Kachin, Karen, Mon and Shan states, and Bago Region, due to what the UEC described as ongoing instability.