Controversy & claims of bias after Myanmar election commission declined (so far) to cancel elections in western Myanmar’s most conflict affected township, Paletwa. Strange decision when polls have been cancelled in most of Rakhine State, even places with no fighting. Why? 1/6
It looks bad for the election commission (under the constitution, a non-independent body appointed by the sitting president) because nearly all cancelled seats in Rakhine were held by ethnic opposition party ANP. Whereas all 5 seats in Paletwa are held by the NLD. What gives? 2/6
First, while decision to cancel most of Rakhine is controversial & inflammatory, it’s not necessarily unfounded. Even in areas of Rakhine with no fighting, police/govt officials often attacked & in fear of lives. Last week 3 NLD candidates kidnapped at gunpoint in “safe” area 3/6
The problem is cancellation decisions are taken by commission in totally opaque manner, no engagement or public explanations given. This erodes trust and leaves the way open to claims of bias and gerrymandering by authorities. Paletwa case reinforces these perceptions... 4/6
Let’s be clear: no way credible polls can be held in Paletwa. Town short of food as access roads cut. Internet shut off. Regular fighting. Civil servants live in fear. Polling materials must be flown in by helicopter. Going ahead damages commission credibility & risks lives. 5/6
Damages credibility because only plausible explanation anyone can think of for polls proceeding is it’s an NLD stronghold. Risks lives because (even if later cancelled) pollworkers/materials must be sent thru warzone, voters at risk, candidates have targets on their backs. 6/6

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More from @rshorsey

16 Oct
Myanmar election commission has just announced areas where elections will be cancelled for security reasons. Here’s a quick analysis. Rakhine State is the big news; this could be a serious conflict flashpoint. 1/7…
RAKHINE: Major cancellations, with authorities taking a maximalist approach that will anger Rakhine people and parties. 9 townships (out of 17) totally cancelled. 4 more partially cancelled (Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Ann, Toungup). Only 4 unaffected (Gwa, Thandwe, Munaung, Ramree). 2/7
All of Arakan National Party safe seats totally cancelled except Sittwe. 3 of 4 townships currently held by NLD unaffected by cancellations. This tilts the election in Rakhine decisively in favour of NLD. While there are valid security concerns, will be very controversial. 3/7
Read 7 tweets
4 Jul
A thread about the tragic loss of life in Myanmar’s Phakant jade mines. So far, 172 bodies have been recovered; dozens more are missing. While this is the most deadly single incident, deaths of informal “jade pickers” happen year after year. What will it take to change this? 1/14
The govt has announced the formation of an “investigation body” to look into the incident, find who was to blame, arrange compensation and “recommend action plans regarding security” to prevent future deaths. That final point on security is telling, and worrying... 2/14
It suggestes an assumption, also conveyed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, that the blame lies with the deceased, because they were working illegally and in defiance of mine closure orders. But that is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of mining at Phakant. 3/14
Read 16 tweets

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