Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No by-elections in Kachin State, says House speaker

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013 12:08 Theingi Tun

The time is still not right to conduct by-elections in the townships of Mogaung and Hpakant, said Lower House speaker Thura Shwe Mann when he met with some 1,000 Kachin State residents on Sunday.

Myanmar Lower House speaker Thura Shwe Mann delivers a speech during his recent trip to Phyu Myo in January, 2013. (Photo: Hein Htet / Mizzima)

Shwe Mann made the comment in response to a question by a villager as he addressed residents from the townships of Mohnyin, Inndawgyi and Hpakant at the town hall in Mohnyin.

But Myanmar’s Lower House speaker did not confirm any reason for the continued postponement nor did he make any mention of a by-election in Bhamo. The three Kachin townships were due to hold by-elections in April 2012, but they were postponed for security reasons as the conflict escalated in many parts of the Kachin region.

Shwe Mann visited Myitkyina, Putao and Mohnyin over the weekend during his first official visit to Kachin State.

Addressing members of the local community at Myitkyina City Hall, Shwe Mann said that he was visiting Kachin State to listen to the people’s voices as a step toward national reconciliation and national unity, according to Myitkyina resident Ja Seng Hkawn who spoke later to Mizzima.

“Many Kachin people have lost everything,” said Ja Seng Hkawn. “National unity and peace have not been achieved.”

He said that although Myanmar President Thein Sein had ordered an end to the government’s military offensive, fighting was continuing in Kachin State, and that Burmese soldiers had robbed, raped and beaten many villagers.

He said that the Kachin community had urged the Lower House Speaker to take action against the culprits.

“The government usually denies that cases of rape have taken place against Kachin women,” said Ja Seng Hkawn. “So some local community leaders collected letters written by the family members of rape victims, and submitted the letters to the Kachin State Chief Minister with instructions to forward the letters to the Naypyitaw authorities.”

The Lower House speaker told us that blaming each other will not solve the problems, said Ja Seng Hkawn.
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