Monday, July 24, 2017

Election in doubt in flood-hit Chin State

The upcoming election may be up to three months late in landslide-ravaged Chin State.

In a wide ranging media briefing yesterday, Union Election Commission Chair U Tin Aye (centre) told reporters about campaign spending caps, voter and candidate list complaints, and a possible three-month election delay in Chin State. (Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times)In a wide ranging media briefing yesterday, Union Election Commission Chair U Tin Aye (centre) told reporters about campaign spending caps, voter and candidate list complaints, and a possible three-month election delay in Chin State. (Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times)

While the official nationwide poll is just 66 days away, the Union Election Commission said it is mulling a request to delay voting in Chin State due to lingering effects of the floods.

“We are thinking about postponing the election in Chin State, but not in all areas. If it is necessary, we think it would be postponed just where there are still difficulties in transportation and communication,” U Tin Aye, the UEC chair, said during a press conference in Yangon yesterday.

The Chin National Democratic Party requested the delay as the impoverished northern state is still struggling to recover from record-setting rains and at least 15,000 residents remain displaced.

“If the commission held the election in Chin State on the set date it would be like approving the 2008 constitution in the wake of Nargis,” said U Zo Zam, chair of the Chin National Democratic Party.

“[The Chin flood victims] have already got physical and mental problems. The government urgently needs to support their rehabilitation process, and, after normal conditions resume, then the election should be held,” he said.

U Gin Kan Lian, general secretary of the Zomi League for Democracy, agreed with the proposed delay.

“Roads and bridges were destroyed because of the flooding. It’s not easy for parties to campaign under these circumstances,” he said.

Infrastructure has take a severe blow in the hard-hit state, where receding floodwater was followed by landslides that may force the capital city to relocate. The Chin State government has requested K27 billion for the recovery efforts.