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Kachin State Electoral Candidate Cites ‘Unfair Law’ as Reason for His Disqualification

Than Win Hlaing

A candidate who had planned to run for the position of Bamar ethnic affairs minister in Kachin State was disqualified from the November election by the state’s election commission because of time he previously spent in Thailand.

Writer Than Win, also known as Than Win Hlaing, was running under the United Nationalities Democracy Party (UNDP) of which he is also vice-chairperson, and said that he would not appeal the decision.

“I will not appeal for the case, because this is an unfair law. If I appeal, it means I accept the unfair law. So I won’t appeal it,” he told KNG.

Eight candidates, including Than Win Hlaing, had registered to run for the ministerial post.

Tun Aung Khine, who is the head of Kachin State’s election commission, said that Than Win Hlaing’s August 14 disqualification was due to a violation of Section 8(a) of the electoral law, which states that the candidate must have lived in Burma for 10 consecutive years prior to the election.

“When we investigated his profile, he lived in Thailand for some years,” Tun Aung Khine told KNG, referring to Than Win Hlaing. “This means he won’t have lived in Burma for 10 consecutive years when the election takes place. Therefore, we decide to dismiss him from the registration list.”

Than Win Hlaing was arrested in 2000 for his writing on Burmese historical figures, and was released in 2010.

“After my release from prison, I worked as a writer for three years. After that, the censorship committee didn’t allow me to publish my writings because I communicated with DVB and RFA,” he said, referring to the Democratic Voice of Burma and Radio Free Asia, which were critical of the military regime. “Then I changed my pen name. I used my daughter’s name as my new pen name. Later on, the censorship committee found out about my new pen name. Then my pen name was banned. I could not work in Burma as a professional writer, so I went to Thailand. I returned to Burma during former president Thein Sein’s government. Now the election commission is dismissing me.”

He added, “that’s the reason why I didn’t live in Burma for 10 consecutive years.”

According to Kachin State’s election commission, between August 11 and 17 they scrutinized all candidates who had registered to run in the coming election.

Seven candidates remain for the Bamar ethnic affairs ministerial post. Eight are running for the Shan affairs post and for the Lisu post, and six for the Rawang post.

There are more than 1.08 million voters in Kahcin State, according to the election commission, and 891 polling sites.

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