Election envoy in Chin urges free polls

(Mizzima) – A member of the junta’s election watchdog has visited district and township election commission offices in Chin State in a claimed bid to urge officers to allow free choice for voters in polls scheduled this year.

During the trip to the state in western Burma that started on Friday, Election Commissioner Dr. Ba Maung while conducting staff training at local poll watchdogs told officials to allow freedom of choice in their electorates. 

Sixty staff attended a session on Friday and Saturday at the State Middle School of Talanlo ward of Falam Township, a northern district of the state, which included training on election commission regulations and staff duties in the upcoming polls.   

“Do the right thing and please take care to avoid errors and misconduct,” Falam Township election commission chairman Sathin Kap told Mizzima, quoting Dr. Ba Maung. “Conduct yourselves according to the [electoral] by-laws.”

“Don’t interfere with voters and make sure they have free choice of their preferences. Let’s let all the people decide freely, he suggested”, Sathin Kap said, referring to what Dr. Ba Maung had urged polling staff members.        

District election commission chairman Van Lian Khup, 14 of the watchdog’s members, and poll commission officers from Tedim and Tonzang townships, also attended the briefing. 

From Falam, Dr. Ba Maung proceeded on Sunday to the Chin State capital of Haka and held a 2½-hour talk on election procedures at the state’s peace and development council offices, attended by 20 poll officers from states and townships. 

He then planned to proceed to Mindat, a southern district of the state, to train poll officers from Paletwa, Kanpetlet and Matupi townships, Haka Township election commission Bawi Hu said. 

Burma’s Election Commission directed nine townships in Chin State to form local bodies in early March and the lists of proposed members were submitted to it mid-April. The lists have received final approval. 

“The state, district and township [election] commissions are finalised,” Chin State election commission chairman Ka-Til said. They were approved and comprise “…chairmen and 14 commission members … [and we hope] the commission offices can be opened at the end of this month.” 

A retired primary school headmaster from Pulaier, Falam election commission chairman Sathin Kap leads the panel’s 15 members, who include retired police sergeant Pu Khua Thio, township supervisor Myint Soe, a township lands officer and a township immigration officer. They were selected by Falam general administration department administrator Khin Maung Win.  

Aside from Bawi Hu, a retired town education officer, Haka Township’s poll panel consists of 15 town officers including immigration officer Nawl Bik, hospital chief Dr. Min Khine, legal officer Than Htike, education officer On Tual, agricultural manager Hung Ki, spokesman Sing Than and deputy administrator Aung Lawha. 

The Chin State poll watchdog is based in Haka and other township panels will operate in Tonzong, Falam, Haka, Thantlang, Matupi, Mindat, Kanpetlet, Tedim and Paletwa.  

Dr. Ba Maung, a retired dean of history, was recently appointed to the Election Commission, Kat-til told Mizzima.


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