Losing USDP candidate sues victorious NLD rival in Karen State claiming intimidation

  • Written by Sa Eh Sue
  • Published in Karen State

Sa Eh Sue — The NLD's newly elected Upper House MP, U Saw Than Htut, who ran in Hpa-an Constituency No 2 in Karen State, is being sued by the outgoing Upper House MP, U Mann Kan Nyunt, from the military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) for alleged intimidation.

U Mann Kan Nyunt filed the case against U Saw Than Htut on November 21 under Section 58 (B) of the Election Law. This section concerns direct or indirect threats being made against any candidate or voter to prevent them from carrying out his or her electoral rights.

“We inspected the additional polling stations in Mae Tha Na and Kawhae on election day. U Saw Than Htut also came to observe them. He came with a ABSDF student army vehicle. As he used the vehicle of an armed group, it seemed like he was making a threat whether or not there were armed people in the vehicle so I have sued him with Section 58 (b),” U Mann Kan Nyunt said.

Formed in 1989, the All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF) signed a ceasefire agreement with the central government in 2012 and recently signed on to the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). As part of its agreement with the central government the group is allowed to operate liaison offices and have its own vehicles.

U Mann Kan Nyunt says he will adhere to whatever ruling the court decides in the case. The first hearing for the case was held at Hpa-an Township Court on December 16. U Saw Than Htut has been granted bail at Hpa-an Myoma Police Station on December 14.

“I had the duty to inspect the polling stations in Warboe and Tagaungboe [areas]. I met with my brother from ABSDF while I was doing the inspection. I greeted him. When I went to Watgyi Polling Station and Tagaungboe Polling Station, I met with him [U Mann Kan Nyunt] before I arrived at Watgyi Polling Station. He saw the ABSDF vehicle from behind [me]. When we met [with him] three or four times, he told the court that the NLD went together with the armed organization and by doing that, it was an indirect threat against him even though I didn’t made any direct threats,” U Saw Than Htut explained when reached for comment.

During the 2010 polling was cancelled in Mae Tha Na, Kawhae, Kyone Htaw, Tagaungboe (Myaing), and Hatlalite villages due to what officials claimed were security reasons. The polling stations were only opened 40 days before this year’s election. The area is close to the areas controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), a long time ally of ABSDF.