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The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced Wednesday that a member of the Shan State legislature from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) would be unseated, with the National League for Democracy runner-up in a by-election held earlier this year taking his place.
The Kengtung Township state-level MP Shar Mwe La Shen won a seat in April’s by-election, but his NLD rival disputed the result in September, claiming that his opponent had run afoul of Burma’s Election Law in both campaign budgeting and distribution of unpermitted electioneering pamphlets.
A UEC tribunal initially dismissed the complaint of the NLD parliamentary hopeful Wunna Soe that same month. The runner-up, however, filed an appeal of the UEC decision and on Wednesday the commission ruled that the NLD candidate was the rightful claimant to the Kengtung seat, based on the allegations he brought against his electoral opponent.
Aung Myint, a member of the election tribunal, said the Election Law did not allow for Shar Mwe La Shen to further dispute this week’s ruling.
“He has no chance to lodge an appeal. Today’s decision is final,” Aung Myint said on Wednesday.
The Shan State parliament is one of the few regional assemblies in which the NLD does not command a majority, with the USDP holding a plurality of elected seats and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) holding the second most.
The new MP Wunna Soe, who will now represent Kengtung Township’s constituency No. 2, told DVB on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the UEC tribunal’s decision and is ready to work on behalf of his new constituents.
“The Shan State parliament will convene on 4 December. And I have to be sworn-in at the parliament, I think. The decision of the UEC was fair,” he said.
A USDP spokesperson objected to Wednesday’s ruling, however, saying most of the country’s political parties shared the USDP’s skepticism of the ability of the commission, as currently constituted, to act as an impartial electoral arbiter.
The USDP plans to hold a press conference on Thursday regarding this case.
“We think that the UEC has bias. We won’t ever trust this commission,” said Nandar Hla Myint, the USDP spokesperson.
This year’s by-election, held on 1 April, saw a combined 19 seats contested across the Union Parliament, and state and regional legislatures. Factoring in Wednesday’s UEC tribunal decision, the NLD won 10 of those races, the SNLD tallied six, and the USDP, the Arakan National Party (ANP) and All Nationalities Democracy Party (ANDP) took one seat each.