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Junta held storm victims’ aid as ransom for votes

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Regime officials in Burma’s west threatened to cut aid to victims of Cyclone Giri if they failed to vote for the main junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, a party source said last night.

after-cyclone-giriMizzima received reports late yesterday that people struggling in areas devastated by the cyclone had been among the latest victims of junta-USDP voter coercion. Giri hit western Burma on October 22, killed at least 50 dead and displaced 70,000.

Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) spokesman Thein Tun Aye told Mizzima last night that “in the storm-affected areas, especially in Myebon, we’ve lost all seats, but in other townships, we won a landslide victory”.

He said: “Our candidates told us the authorities, especially the western military commanders, told all the elders and the villagers to vote for the USDP, not our Rakhine Party [RNDP] … and that if the villagers voted for the RNDP they would not receive any provisions or any help.”

The USDP had clearly taken advantage of the vulnerability of voters in areas affected by Cyclone Giri, he said.

Chapter three of the Union Election Commission Law, section eight, provides that: “The duties and powers of the commission are as follows … postponing and cancelling the elections in constituencies in which free and fair election could not be held due to natural disaster or situation of regional security”.

Before the polls, the RNDP had asked junta officials to postpone voting in the state to enable storm victims to recuperate and rebuild their homes. Its calls were ignored.

The pre-election junta had used the electoral laws’ powers to postpone voting in areas of Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Mon and Shan states, and yet had deemed it inappropriate in Arakan, where 400,000 people were reportedly affected by the cyclone.

Last Updated ( Monday, 08 November 2010 10:10 )  

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