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Myanmar Releases Final Candidate List, Dozens Disqualified

  • May Kha

Myanmar has released its final list of candidates for the upcoming general election, with more than 6,000 people running for positions in the national parliament and regional legislatures.

However, at least 75 independent or opposition party candidates have been disqualified, many because of the citizenship status of their parents.

Among them are about 15 of 18 candidates from the Democracy and Human Rights Party, a Muslim majority party whose candidates tried to run in the Rakhine state constituencies.

A Rohingya member of parliament who was disqualified from running for re-election last week told a U.S. congressional hearing that Myanmar is stripping Muslims and other minorities of their rights in the democratic process.

“Including me, my colleagues, Rohingya candidates and all Muslims are rejected to contest in the election," he said. "Since we all, the whole group, lost our chance to contest the election as over 1 million people from our state are not allowed to vote, too, the international community [should be] concerned whether the elections would be free and fair."

The Myanmar government has not yet responded to the allegations, but has said it intends to hold free and fair elections.

Last week, the United States said it is concerned about Myanmar's disqualification of dozens of candidates.

State Department spokesman John Kirby issued a statement saying the U.S. is aware of reports that almost all Muslim candidates had been rejected.

"The move to disqualify some 100 candidates, through an opaque and discriminatory process, risks undermining the confidence of the Burmese people and the international community in these elections," he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy, has called for vigorous international monitoring of the November general elections.

Her party won 43 seats in parliamentary by-elections in 2012. The last time the NLD took part in a general election was in 1990, when it scored a landslide victory that was ignored by the country's military rulers.

The polls will be the first general election since a nominally civilian government was installed in 2011. But, with the military still firmly in control of the process, there is widespread speculation about whether the election will be free and fair.