The Kachin National Congress (KNC) gathered in protest on Monday against an amendment of the election bylaw allowing guest domestic workers voting rights less than three months after arriving in Kachin State.
KNC members and supporters collected in front of Sein Mya Aya park in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State, to oppose the new regulation.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) amended article 10 of the bylaw allowing workers to vote 90 days after arriving in the state from the 180 days previously required.
“I want to say the power of national sovereignty comes from every citizen. This means citizens select their own representatives for building this national sovereignty,” Dr Kawn La, the chairperson of the KNC, told KNG. This sovereignty will be threatened when the workers, unfamiliar with the local parties, vote for the larger parties from central Burma they know, he explained.
“Local political parties will suffer in the election. This kind of law does not exist anywhere else in the world.”
The problems will be felt in every constituency importing workers for mega-development projects, Kawn La said, predicting as many as 10 out of 18 townships in Kachin State will lose out because of the amendment.
It can even impact the peace process, he said.
“We can’t win in Hpakant, Tanai (Danai) and Mohnyin (townships). There are many road construction workers in Puta-O. In the past, Kachin parties won in three constituencies in N’jan Yang township but if a military operation is launched there what will happen then?”
Thousands of guest workers are employed in banana tissue plantations in Waingmaw, Kawn La said. “These people won’t vote for local political parties. Democracy is decided by the election results… we can’t win this election.”
During the protest, about fifty participants chanted for a “free and fair 2020 election” and to “remove all obstacles for the road to federal democracy” by repealing the amendment.
“The people of Kachin State want to administer our own state,” Nang Zing Htang Htu, who joined the demonstration, told KNG.
While many other Kachin political parties have merged, the KNC has remained an independent party.
The KNC is a member of the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA).