Muslim politicians excluded from election

09 September 2015
Muslim politicians excluded from election
Rohingya MP Shwe Maung talks during a press call in front of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission office in Yangon, Myanmar, 04 September 2015.Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Concerns have been raised over the lack of Muslim candidates in political parties contesting the 8 November election. Both the BBC and Britain’s the Telegraph have highlighted the fact that neither the National League for Democracy (NLD) nor the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) appear to have Muslim candidates.
In addition, Muslims have also been struck from voters lists especially in Rakhine state, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were denied the right to vote after being forced to return their government identity cards. It is estimated that 500,000 Rohingya voters have been wiped from voter lists, despite many having participated in previous polls
U Shwe Maung, a sitting MP with the USDP, was not just barred from running for office again but also stripped of the right to vote under the new rules because, according to the Union Election Commission (UEC), he could not prove that his parents were citizens at the time of their births, even though his father had served as a senior police officer in the country.
The UEC also rejected 17 out of 18 candidates from a party supporting Rohingya Muslims ahead of the poll. As a party must be able to field three candidates it is likely the party will not be allowed to contest the election.
Muslims make up at least five per cent of the 51-million population.