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Citizenship criteria trips up election candidates

By Soe Than Lynn and Shwe Yinn Mar Oo
September 20 - 26, 2010

THE rejection of at least six prospective Hluttaw candidates and the withdrawal of several more last week dealt another blow to the election strength of several Yangon-based political parties.

Most of the candidates are believed to have been rejected because of their failure to comply with Article 8 (b) of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, which stipulates that a candidate must have been born of parents who are both Myanmar citizens.

U Hla Thein, a spokesperson of National Democratic Party for Development, said two of the party’s candidates had been rejected on the basis of their parents’ lack of citizenship.

U Abdullah, who registered as a candidate in Yangon Region Amyotha Hluttaw Constituency 4, and U Kyaw Hla, who was expected to contest a seat in the Yangon Region Hluttaw, were both rejected, he said.

“We are now ready to appeal for them and I think we can submit the appeal letter on Monday [September 20],” U Hla Thein said.

The party had also lost its Yangon Region Hluttaw candidate for South Dagon, who withdrew from the election voluntarily, possibly because of financial difficulties.

“We had expected to field 25 candidates in Yangon Region and Rakhine State but even if the two rejected candidates are approved on appeal, we will only have 24 candidates.”

Dr Than Nyein, chairman of the National Democratic Force, said the party had lost two candidates because they failed to meet citizenship requirements.

He said the party had been expecting the pair – Dagon Seikkan Pyithu Hluttaw candidate U Phone Myint and U Kyaw Myint, a candidate in Taungdwingyi for the Magway Region Hluttaw – to be knocked back and didn’t plan on appealing the decision.

“We now have 163 candidates altogether, because two have been rejected and cannot stand,” he said. “They are both rejected because they didn’t meet citizenship criteria. While both of them have a National Registration Card, their parents were only Foreign Residency Certificate (FRC) holders and not citizens.”

“We realised this would be a problem for us only after they had registered. The point is that we didn’t have time to prepare our candidate lists properly and check whether all of them met the criteria to stand as Hluttaw candidates. Still, we don’t think it will affect our party strength too much.”

U Thu Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), said one of the party’s candidates had been rejected, while another two had withdrawn.

“One of our members, U Hla Myint, was not given permission to stand as a Yangon Region Hluttaw candidate in Mingalar Taung Nyunt for taxation reasons. We think it was related to when he worked as a sailor,” U Thu Wai said.

Two candidates for the Yangon Region Hluttaw in Shwe Pyi Thar had withdrawn voluntarily at the request of their families, he said, while independent candidate U Win Naing, who was part of a group of eight independents that had aligned themselves with the Democratic Party, was also rejected on citizenship grounds.

“We are disappointed with our number of candidates, we were really hoping for more in the election.
“But in the past few days we have had an offer from three more independent candidates to form an alliance with our party.”