Election commission tells UNA to stay out of student protest

24 February 2015
Election commission tells UNA to stay out of student protest
Union Election Commission chairperson U Tin Aye speaks to the media during an earlier meeting, this time between the UEC and political parties at Park Royal Hotel in Yangon on February 18, 2015. Photo: UEC

The Union Election Commission has advised the United Nationalities Alliance to avoid confrontation with the government over the student march calling for amendments to the National Education Law.
The comment was made by the UEC chairperson U Tin Aye at a meeting of UEC officials and UNA delegates on the morning of February 23. Seven UNA member parties were invited by the UEC to attend the meeting.
Min Kyaw Win, the central executive committee member of Mon National Party, who attended the meeting, told Mizzima on February 23, “Although it was not a direct warning, that appears to be the intention. He said that the parties must cooperate with the government when the government is in crisis, and avoid confrontation with the government.”
The comment came in the wake of a February 17-19 conference involving eight UNA member armed groups, 18 UNA member parties and seven civil society groups, after which the UNA issued a statement.
The UNA conference urged the government to establish peace through political dialogue, and to re-draft or amend the constitution. It urged parliament to immediately implement the student marchers’ 11-point demands calling for amendment to the National Education Law and urged the authorities not to take punitive action against the student marchers. And the conference urged the UEC to hold free-and-fair general elections.
U Aye Thar Aung, a central executive committee member of the Rakhine National Party, said that the UEC issued a warning on some points mentioned in the statement of the UNA.
Some members of UNA were involved in the students’ strike and some members made donations towards the students, and that may be the reason why the UEC warned the UNA.
“We made the demands in accordance with the law. And we did not deviate from the government [the government’s rules],” said U Aye Thar Aung. “Education is important for the country, so we have to support [the efforts].”
Despite the UEC’s warning, the UNA will continue calling for educational reform, dialogue for peace, a conference of national ethnic people and amendments to the constitution, according to the UNA.